America Overdue For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

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New Study: America Overdue For Major Earthquake … In States You Didn’t Suspect

Written by: Daniel JenningsCurrent EventsJuly 31, 2014

Most Americans have a reasonable chance of experiencing a destructive earthquake within the next 50 years, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has concluded.

The survey’s new National Seismic Hazard Map show that the risk of earthquakes in parts of the country — such as the Midwest, Oregon and the Rocky Mountains — is far higher than previously thought. All total, Americans in one-third of the country saw their risk for an earthquake increase.

“I worry that we will wake up one morning and see earthquake damage in our country that is as bad as that has occurred in some developing nations that have experienced large earthquakes,” Carl Hedde, a risk management expert at insurer Munich Reinsurance America, said of the map in The Wall Street Journal“Beyond building collapse, a large amount of our infrastructure could be immediately damaged. Our roads, bridges and energy transmission systems can be severely impacted.”

Among the findings:

  • The earthquake danger in parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and South Carolina is as high as that in Los Angeles.
  • 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years.
  • Parts of 16 states have the highest risk of a quake: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina

“We know the hazard has increased for small and moderate size earthquakes,” USGS scientist William Ellsworth told The Journal. “We don’t know as well how much the hazard has increased for large earthquakes. Our suspicion is it has but we are working on understanding this.”

Frightening Results From New Study

The USGS used new computer modeling technology and data collected from recent quakes such as the one that struck Washington, D.C. in 2011 to produce the new maps. The maps show that many Americans who thought they were safe from earthquakes are not.

New Relocation Manual Helps Average Americans Get Out Of Harms Way Before The Coming Crisis

Some of the survey’s other disturbing findings include:

  • The earthquake danger in Oklahoma, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, New York and parts of New England is higher than previously thought.
  • Some major metropolitan areas, including Memphis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, St. Louis and Charleston, have a higher risk of earthquakes than previously thought. One of the nation’s most dangerous faults, the New Madrid fault, runs right through St. Louis and Missouri. It is the nation’s second most active fault. On Dec. 16, 1811, the New Madrid Fault was the site of the most powerful series of earthquakes in American history.

“Obviously the building codes throughout the central U.S. do not generally take earthquake risk or the risk of a large earthquake into account,” USGS Seismologist Elizabeth Cochran told The Journal. Her take: Earthquake damage in the central US could be far greater than in places like California, because structures in some locations are not built to withstand quakes.

Others agree.

“Earthquakes are quite rare in many places but when they happen they cause very intense damage because people have not prepared,” Mark Petersen, the project chief for the USGS’s National Seismic Hazard Map, told The Journal.

This new map should be a wakeup call for Americans.

Israel and Hamas Agree to Cool Hostilities Outside the Temple Walls for Now

Israel and Hamas Agree to Cool Hostilities, for Now

With the coronavirus spreading fast in Gaza, the sides agreed to stop bombarding each other, and Israel said it would resume fuel supplies. A cash infusion from Qatar helped seal the deal.

By David M. Halbfinger and Adam Rasgon

Aug. 31, 2020

Palestinian police officers guarded streets in Gaza City last week as part of a 48-hour lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.Khalil Hamra/Associated Press

JERUSALEM — With the coronavirus spreading fast through the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian militant group Hamas agreed Monday night to cool its latest round of hostilities with Israel in exchange for a cash infusion from Qatar and for Israel’s agreement to let fuel flow back to Gaza’s power station, officials said.

For several weeks, Gaza, ruled by Hamas, has launched hundreds of balloons laden with incendiary devices and explosives — and more than a few rockets — into southern Israel, torching large tracts of farmland and keeping thousands of Israeli civilians on edge. Israel has responded with frequent airstrikes and tank fire on what it said was Hamas military infrastructure in Gaza.

Far from resolving anything, though, Monday’s agreement — which effectively bought the promise of a month’s calm — was just another familiar step in the miserable minuet that has entangled Israel and Hamas for years.

Hamas again promised that it was to get long-sought progress on major economic projects; it did not detail them, but as of last week it was demanding an extended power line and a new industrial zone that could alleviate Gaza’s appallingly high unemployment rate.

By contrast, Israel announced that it was merely allowing routine cargo activity at the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza and permitting Gaza’s fishermen to resume plying the Mediterranean waters up to 15 nautical miles off its shores.

Once again, it was understood by each side that the failure to live up to its promises could bring about another round of escalation.

“This decision will be tested on the ground,” the Israeli military agency responsible for Gaza, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, said in a statement. “If Hamas, which is accountable for all actions that are taken in the Gaza Strip, fails to stand by its obligations, Israel will act accordingly.”

For his part, Yehya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, announced that the agreement would “contain the escalation and halt the Zionist aggression on our people.”

Smoke hung over Gaza City after an Israeli airstrike on Friday.Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Talal Okal, a Gaza-based political analyst, said the understanding had little hope of leading to a long-term cease-fire.

“We’re in the middle of a vicious cycle,” he said. “It seems that the situation hasn’t changed significantly and that the tensions can come back in the snap of a finger.” He said the success of Monday’s agreement would depend on Israel’s willingness to implement it — something he accused the country of evading in past deals with Hamas.

The agreement was trumpeted by Mohammed al-Emadi, a Qatari ambassador who heads that nation’s Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza and has been shuttling back and forth between Israel and Gaza for days. But while he alluded to projects that Hamas has agitated for, he said that the calming of tensions was “paving the way” for their implementation, suggesting that work was not about to begin imminently.

None of the parties publicly disclosed the amount of Qatar’s cash infusion. A person familiar with the agreement, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it, put the payment at $27 million.

It was not immediately clear what Hamas would use the money for. Officials say that previous payments from Qatar have been used in Gaza, which is in dire economic condition, to buy fuel, pay civil servants’ salaries and provide relief to impoverished families.

Politics has loomed over the heated-up Gaza-Israel border in multiple ways, analysts said — particularly with an election coming up to decide the leadership of Hamas. Khaled Meshal, a former Hamas leader now in exile in Qatar, is believed to be vying to topple Ismail Haniya, the Gaza-based Hamas political director.

Mr. Haniya and Mr. Sinwar have sought to show that they are capable of compelling Israel to make meaningful improvements to conditions in Gaza, whether in easing its blockade or in advancing big projects.

But the political situation in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in a kind of permanent campaign mode, repeatedly dangling the prospect of taking the country to another election, has made it difficult to imagine Israel doing much to benefit Hamas in the near future.

For Qatar, meanwhile, restoring calm can enhance its stature in the region, said Celine Touboul, a Gaza expert and co-director of the Economic Cooperation Foundation, an Israeli think tank. “Simply put, they want to be a player,” she said. “And to be a player for them is to demonstrate that they can contribute to shift the situation and calm it.”

Hamas noted in announcing Monday’s understanding that it would help provide a measure of relief to Gaza in light of its battle with the coronavirus. But the most crucial missing element in that fight was electricity, as Israel had halted shipments of fuel into Gaza in retribution for the flaming balloons and rockets.

Police officers in Gaza City guarded the entrance of Shifa Hospital after patients tested positive for the coronavirus.Khalil Hamra/Associated Press

That standoff became dire last Monday, when Hamas officials reported the first cases of community transmission. And the spread of the virus in Gaza appears to have accelerated: As of Monday morning, there were 243 active cases of local spread and 37 among returning travelers held at quarantine facilities, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Officials have reported three virus-related deaths in the past week.

Virus testing kits are in short supply in Gaza, the ministry said, and it is testing at a slow pace. As of Monday morning, it had conducted just 670 tests in the preceding 24 hours.

Nickolay E. Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, wrote on Twitter that he welcomed Monday’s agreement: “Ending the launching of incendiary devices and projectiles, restoring electricity will allow #UN to focus on dealing with the #COVID19 crisis. All parties should return to the calm understandings.”

Mr. Mladenov and Ambassador Emadi, among other officials, were expected to meet on Tuesday at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza.

Earlier on Monday, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Jamie McGoldrick, called upon Hamas to stop the rockets and balloons and Israel to restore electricity, which was down to just four hours a day, “in line with its obligations as an occupying power.”

“The situation is hindering the provision of services in the quarantine facilities and the capacity of the health system to cope with the increased demands, such as the ability to detect new COVID-19 cases,” Mr. McGoldrick said. “Power outages in hospitals are having serious repercussions, with patients in intensive care, chronic and emergency cases particularly vulnerable.”

David M. Halbfinger reported from Jerusalem and Adam Rasgon from Tel Aviv. Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting from Gaza City.

Trump Confronts Iran Before the November Election

Confronting Iran Before the November Election | Opinion

BY JACOB NAGEL AND MARK DUBOWITZ ON 8/31/20 AT 6:30 AM EDT

The next two months before the November election are critical to the fight against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its nuclear and regional ambitions. The Trump administration must continue its maximum pressure campaign, while building safeguards to prevent a return to the fatally flawed nuclear agreements of the past.

For starters, the administration should swiftly blacklist the Islamic Republic’s entire financial sector, thereby expelling the remaining 13 Iranian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system. A single bank should remain on the system to process humanitarian trade. This will cut off Tehran’s financial oxygen, continue to fuel protests and labor strikes against the regime, and build leverage for future negotiations.

The administration should also complete its “sanctions wall of political and market deterrence” by filling the gaps in the U.S. sanctions regime. This should include more sanctions targeting the regime’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program and its human rights abuses and corruption. Republicans should also make clear, through the passage of a congressional resolution, that the lifting of sanctions by a Biden administration would be temporary and that such a move does not change the market’s views of Tehran’s illicit conduct. International companies should expect to lose their investments in Iran if Republicans retake power in four years and reinstate all sanctions.

The sanctions wall also needs an international component. On August 20, the administration correctly invoked America’s right to trigger a unilateral snapback of Security Council sanctions. The snapback will prevent the expiration of both the UN’s conventional arms embargo on Iran this October and the missile embargo in 2023, as well as reinstate the prohibition against the production of nuclear fissile material on Iranian soil. Other Council members are working to counter Washington but, assuming the snapback proceeds, a Biden administration should pocket the resulting leverage. Either President Biden or President Trump can negotiate an improved Security Council resolution that extends the arms and missile embargos and eliminates Iran’s uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities as part of a better nuclear deal.

Biden’s advisers are now studying how to return to the 2015 nuclear, deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—or even to the interim 2013 deal, the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). They are also studying the possibility of a new and more comprehensive agreement. These proposals wrongly contemplate upfront sanctions relief to entice Iran back to the table. That was a bad idea in 2013 and 2015. It would be equally wrongheaded in 2021.

To avoid repeating such mistakes, it is important to understand how they were made in the first instance.

In 2012, American officials arrived in Israel for a secret visit. The officials said that the U.S. needed to provide the Islamic Republic with an off-ramp from the nuclear standoff then underway. They wanted to offer sanctions relief in exchange for minor nuclear concessions. They called these inducements “confidence-building measures,” a concept which became essential to the Obama administration’s overall approach to Iran negotiations and seems, once again, to be part of the prospective Biden plan. If Tehran rejected them, they said, the U.S. and its partners would double down on sanctions. Israel warned against this slippery slope, predicting the negotiations would take on a life of their own and that negotiators would come to prefer any deal to no deal at all.

Israeli officials argued for full Iranian compliance with all UN Security Council resolutions, including total suspension of nuclear enrichment and reprocessing, as well as full disclosure of all past nuclear and weaponization activities. Only then, the Israelis said, should the Islamic Republic be rewarded with sanctions relief. The American officials insisted that a final deal would achieve full compliance with all UN resolutions, including zero uranium enrichment, zero plutonium reprocessing, zero heavy water stockpiles, the resolution of all the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program and a complete cessation of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

We know how that turned out. The Iranians out-negotiated their American counterparts, who were set on securing a deal before Barack Obama’s second term expired. The 2013 JPOA granted Iran billions of dollars for simply sitting at the table, along with an upfront and unprecedented recognition of Iranian enrichment rights that multiple UN Security Council resolutions had denied, and sunset provisions on key nuclear restrictions.

The 2015 JCPOA went further. It granted the regime massive sanctions relief. It provided patient pathways, as restrictions sunset over eight to 15 years to industrial-size enrichment capabilities and near-zero nuclear breakout time. The deal gave Iran the immediate right to work on R&D for advanced centrifuges, which are easier to hide. It also gave the Islamic Republic more latitude to develop ballistic missiles, as well as access to heavy weaponry, as the UN conventional arms and missiles embargoes lapsed in five to eight years. Tehran also would receive full diplomatic, economic and nuclear normalization without achieving any of the goals that the American officials had promised to Israel.

How to prevent these mistakes from recurring?

First, the U.S. should reinforce the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), especially after last week’s trip to Tehran by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi. The IAEA should continue its demand for full Iranian compliance with existing agreements, including the one agreed to last week that gave the agency visitation rights at two sites where the Iranians allegedly concealed illicit nuclear activities in violation of their Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement obligations. Grossi should insist that Tehran fulfill its commitments without limitation on future inspection rights, including inspections based on the agency’s use of the Iran nuclear archive materials. Spirited out of Iran by the Israeli Mossad, the archive includes new details about Tehran’s past weaponization activities beyond what the IAEA and Western intelligence services knew at the time of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Unfortunately, Tehran seems to have won this round with Washington. The time required to arrange the visit of weapons inspectors, collect soil samples at the sites, analyze them and issue a report will not happen before the U.S. election. The IAEA also should condemn the Islamic Republic for its openly declared JCPOA violations. The JCPOA cannot remain a valid agreement if the regime is violating it.

While the IAEA pursues its mandate, the intelligence services of the U.S., Israel and other Western powers should continue clandestine efforts to stop Iran’s illegal nuclear program and terrorist activities. The sabotage operation in July against Iran’s advanced centrifuge program at Natanz reportedly set back this critical component of the nuclear program by one to two years. The U.S., Israel and others possibly involved should continue to hit Iranian nuclear facilities, missile and military infrastructure, as well as Iranian and proxy forces in the region. The Obama administration made the mistake of tying the hands of U.S. and foreign intelligence services. That’s leverage Washington must use against Tehran.

If completed, the UN snapback should reset the baseline for future negotiations with Iran to avoid the mistakes of the JCPOA. Longer sunset periods and slightly better inspections are insufficient. A new agreement should permanently cut off all Iranian pathways to nuclear weapons by starting with the premise that the regime may not produce fissile material on its soil—and, like over 30 other countries, could buy nuclear fuel on the open market for civilian energy production. Iran must also come clean on all of its nuclear and weaponization activities, materials and equipment, and curtail missile development that threatens America and its regional allies. That was the international baseline before the 2013, and that’s where we need to return.

It is too much to ask for the Trump administration and Biden team to coordinate Iran policy. Such is American politics today. But they can march divided and strike united, while learning from the mistakes of the past, to forge a more effective Iran policy. That’s good for Americans, as well as Middle Eastern allies who find themselves in Iranian missile range and fear a potential Iranian atomic bomb.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a visiting professor at the Technion Aerospace Engineering Faculty. He previously served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acting national security advisor and head of the National Security Council. Mark Dubowitz is FDD’s chief executive officer. Iran sanctioned him and FDD in 2019.

The views expressed in this article are the writers’ own.

Babylon the Great Must Still Pat For Her Sins (Revelation 18:10)

Why the Surrender of Imperial Japan Still Matters

Wednesday will be the seventy-fifty anniversary of Imperial Japan’s formal surrender, thus ending the year’s annual debates over the tragedies preceding President Harry Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The tragic lessons tied to these events remain central to peace and stability in the world.

This year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to send one of the largest cabinet delegations in recent history to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for Japan’s war dead. This annual event, which coincides with the anniversary, was punctuated by his official statement, which quickly displeased most of Asia, evoking strong denunciations by China and South Korea.

In his statement, Abe resurrected the morally flawed and historically dishonest “Japan as victim” trope by focusing in detail on Japan’s pain, but no one else’s pain, with no mention of why the war happened and who was responsible for it. This, unfortunately, ignored the heart of his well-received remarks to a Joint Session of Congress in 2015.

More significantly, his statement went against today’s broad consensus in Japan that the Imperial government bore some responsibility for the war, what the war engendered, and what might be described as “militant pacificism.”  In practice, this consistently restrains Abe’s goal of a more militant national defense posture and weaponry. While understandable, the traumas of 1945 underwrite Japan’s reluctance to assume the full responsibilities of a modern military power despite growing regional challenges.

Visits to the Yasunkuni Shrine have long endured criticism due to its enshrined convicted war criminals, which is why the Emperor Naruhito has refused to visit it. This year’s remembrances of the war have prompted an outpouring of thoughtful discussions of the key questions still resonating in policy debates today: why did Truman decide to be the first—and so far only—national leader to use nuclear weapons and how should history judge him as multiple nations seek to ensure that there is never again a nuclear attack.

Truman’s controversial decision to use nuclear weapons has often been questioned, which isn’t just about historic judgments and moral considerations. Those questions center around geostrategic policy concerns given the rising tensions between the United States and its major nuclear weapons rivals, Russia and China. They also center around the long-time threats of North Korea, consistent squabbles between India and Pakistan, the Trump administration’s various attacks on all U.S. alliances, and the currently imperiled arms control agreements which also have helped maintain peace.

That’s why it’s really important to be careful about using history in broad, essentially moralistic ways, but especially when past events are contorted by political leaders seeking to reshape “history” to their own ends. One clear lesson of history still playing out in both Europe and Asia: nationalism as state policy is a cancer that has often proven to be fatal.

Since the dawn of the nuclear age, arguments against any use of nuclear weapons, however well-intentioned, underscore the risks of projecting back new information and current values that persistently ignore context such as the Howard Baker classic “what did they know and when did they know it.”

Today, it’s impossible for any of us to escape the “nuclear terror” of the Cold War years. But Truman and his associates couldn’t possibly have felt any of that, especially after all that they had seen and all that the American people endured. Their “context” unavoidably included years of mass civilian bombings throughout Europe and Asia, carried out by every country involved, including Imperial Japan.

In 1945, despite the Potsdam Conference’s discussion over the Emperor’s fate, virulent Imperial Military opposition to the peace feelers being offered via Moscow stalemated the small, if highly-placed “peace faction.” So when totaling up the horrifying human cost of the possible impact of nuclear weapons on Joseph Stalin’s machinations, critics must examine whether a surrender delay would have produced what happened next in Germany. Would we today have a North Japan and South Japan akin to the ongoing North Korea and South Korea tragedy?

Giving credibility to Stalin’s contemplated involvement springs the trap of ignoring other, all-too-plausible outcomes, such as the possibility that there would be no quick surrender, that the mass starvation Japan already had endured would be further exacerbated, that deaths would have approached genocidal levels if the Imperial Generals had carried out their intent to fight to the last schoolchild.

Impelled by our own, modern-day anxieties, we’re often left with a moral lecture that touches base with a terrible war in which the aggressors, such as Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, did unspeakable things. Yet many critics now seem more interested in denouncing Truman and colleagues based on value-laden assertions grounded in our very real nuclear anxieties.

Factual misstatements remain an obstacle to accurate assessment. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson’s “one million U.S. casualties” projection is often presented as an after-the-fact rationalization, rather than associated with its origin: the then-current facts about Iwo Jima, Okinawa, et al on both Japanese and U.S. casualties, which are the very rock of the foundation for Stimson’s argument, and Truman’s duty to consider.

Recently, some critics have tried to argue that Truman was wrong not to risk U.S. lives in order to save Japanese civilians from the nuclear holocaust, even though the context for the bombings encompassed the multiple-millions of civilian dead world-wide and a rising awareness of the Holocaust.

After all, the horrific Allied bombings of Germany and Japan failed to bring the then-projected benefits, but the Strategic Bombing Survey didn’t exist until well after the war and can’t be projected back in time.

Similarly, the world correctly now condemns civilian bombings from Kosovo to Syria, and it is true that U.S. military lives have been lost in Afghanistan and Iraq in an effort to avoid incurring civilian casualties. But again, critics cannot project the present back to 1945. As Truman once said in a run-up debate, with over four hundred thousand dead already, how can I tell another American family their loved one died to protect a Japanese?

Finally, speaking from a cultural perspective, even if we ignore the Bible’s litany of revenge, we can’t ignore the moral dilemma of, for lack of a better way to put it, “societal guilt.” Are critics prepared to argue that the Soviet Army shouldn’t have pressed on to Berlin because so many German civilians were killed and raped before the surrender? The average German we now know had a lot to do with the Holocaust. And have you ever talked to a Russian about how many family members are buried outside Stalingrad? Have you ever spoken to the Chinese, Koreans, Southeast Asians, Filipino, Australian families about their horrific treatment and losses at the hands of Imperial Japan?

Among the traps or risks in not doing so is to justify claims the War Crimes Trials were “victor’s justice,” the explicit theme of the museum at Yakusuni. And most reprehensibly, it underwrites the inexcusable “poor Japan as victim” trope implicit in Abe’s recent remarks.

Despite that, there is now broad acceptance in Japan that of course actions have consequences, and that the weight of history is not easily lifted, hence the agonizing heart of Abe’s statement. A current American example: The “Black Lives Matter” movement is forcing the country to deal with the blood-drenched history of racism and the moral and political price it has yet to fully pay.

If it’s true that the moral arc of history bends toward justice, then its definition of war is likely to be harsh. Abraham Lincoln put it best in his second inaugural address:

“If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God [means war] must needs come . . . [and] if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”

Whether or not a person can accept Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or the Russian rape of Germany, as the “harsh arc of justice,” in looking back on 1945 they owe it to themselves and the dead to accurately and honestly discuss why it happened, not just how truly awful it was. That is the only way that we, as a society, can ever hope to achieve “never again.”

Christopher Nelson recently retired from a long career as a journalist and Asia policy analyst, including The Nelson Report. He has written two books on the American Civil War.

Image: Reuters

Nuclear War Makes a Comeback (Revelation 16)

Nuclear War Makes a Comeback | Sierra Club

On websites where policymakers, scholars, and military leaders gather, concern about the possibility of nuclear war has been rising sharply in recent months as China, the United States, and Russia develop new weapons and new ways of using old ones.

On War on the Rocks, an online platform for national security articles and podcasts, Tong Zhao, a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, reported August 11 on public calls in China “to quickly and massively build up its nuclear forces” on the theory that only a “more robust nuclear posture” would prevent war with the United States.

The biggest nuclear arms budget ever is nearing approval in the US Congress, and the Trump administration has raised the possibility of resuming nuclear tests. President Trump has pulled the United States out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, while the New Start Treaty capping Russian and US nuclear warheads and delivery systems is set to expire next February if the two countries don’t agree to extend it.

For its part, Russia appears poised to equip its navy with hypersonic nuclear strike weapons, and according to the British newspaper The Independent, “The Russian premier has repeatedly spoken of his wish to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons that can be targeted anywhere on the planet.”

Meanwhile, momentum to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons has faltered. Nine nations now hold nuclear arms in an increasingly unsettled international scene. Recent research has shown that a nuclear exchange between just two of those with lesser arsenals—India and Pakistan—“could directly kill about 2.5 times as many as died worldwide in WWII, and in this nuclear war, the fatalities could occur in a single week.” Burning cities would throw so much soot into the upper atmosphere that temperatures and precipitation levels would fall across much of the earth—bringing widespread drought, famine, and death.

Clashes between India, Pakistan, and other nuclear-armed states have become frequent enough that the International Red Cross marked the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a warning: “[T]he risk of use of nuclear weapons has risen to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War.”

For 75 years, the nuclear Sword of Damocles has dangled over the earth. There is widespread agreement among analysts that the long lull may soon be over—owing, in part, to the end of the Cold War. During those decades, the United States and the USSR cooperated not only to avoid bombing each other into oblivion but also to discourage other nations from gaining their own nuclear arms, in part by spreading their nuclear umbrellas over their allies.

That international system has dissolved. In addition to the United States, Russia, and China, other nations have nuclear weapons and more are likely to soon acquire them. And a new possibility has appeared on the horizon: the increased likelihood that nuclear weapons could be introduced into conventional warfare in regional wars.

In a monograph published by Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, US defense policy and strategy analyst John K. Warden writes that “in the capitals of potential adversary countries,” the idea is taking hold “that nuclear wars can be won because they can be kept limited, and thus can be fought—even against the United States.”

What can the United States do to convince adversaries not to introduce nuclear weapons into a conventional war—to make clear, in advance, that taking such a step would lead to fatal consequences for the country that took it?

The answer from the US national security establishment, as the fiscal 2021 defense budget suggests, is a readiness to fight fire with fire: If the “adversaries” of the United States hold out the threat of introducing nuclear weapons in a conventional war, then (the argument goes) they should expect that the United States will respond in kind.

How many weapons and delivery systems would that require? A lot, according to the nuclear budget for the Departments of Defense and Energy now going through Congress. At a time when COVID-19 has shaken the foundations of the federal budget, Congress is close to approving $44.5 billion for fiscal 2021 to modernize nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and the infrastructure that supports them.

Sierra Club nuclear policy director John Coequyt has called on Congress “to resist the current renewal of the nuclear arms race and to ban the use of nuclear weapons,” and Sierra Club members have mobilized to try to stop funding for nuclear war projects in their neighborhoods.

In South Carolina, for instance, Tom Clements, Sierra Club member and director of Savannah River Site Watch, has joined other groups in challenging plans for expanded plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site. And the Ohio Sierra Club’s Nuclear Free Committee has opposed production at the Portsmouth Nuclear Site in Piketon of “high-assay low-enriched uranium” that could be upgraded for weapons use, in the United States or elsewhere.

While such efforts often focus on local effects of nuclear weapons production, they also manifest a larger concern. Says the Club’s Nuclear Free Core Team’s Mark Muhich, the renewed nuclear arms race is “an existential threat both to human civilization and to the earth.”

Join the conversation in the Nuclear Free Campaign room of the Sierra Club Grassroots Network.

Read the Sierra Club’s policy statements on nuclear weapons here.

Israeli tanks hit Hamas outside the Temple (Revelation 11)

Israeli tanks hit Hamas after balloon attacks from Gaza

Head of Hamas political bureau said it will not back down from wanting to end the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Smoke rises following an Israeli air attack on the Gaza Strip [Mohammed Shana/Reuters]

The Israeli army says its tanks have hit Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after Palestinian balloon attacks across the border continued.

An early-morning military statement said there had been airborne explosive and incendiary attacks into southern Israel on Saturday.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from any of the incidents.

Palestinian sources said an Israeli artillery shell was fired towards a field control point east of Khan Younis, and another shell east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

According to the Israeli fire brigade, the fire bombs – crude devices fitted to balloons, inflated condoms or plastic bags inflated with helium – have triggered more than 400 blazes in southern Israel.

The Israeli army has carried out attacks on Gaza almost daily since August 6, along with further tightening a devastating blockade it has imposed on the Palestinian territory since 2007.

Under the new measures, it banned the entry of fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant, plunging it into darkness.

The Gaza Strip has a population of two million people, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank.

The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniya, said his movement – which controls the Gaza Strip – would not back down from wanting to end the Israeli blockade.

“Our decision and the decision of our people is to go ahead with ending this unjust siege in all its forms,” Haniya said in a statement issued by his office early on Sunday.

“The leadership of the movement is closely following the current situation in the Gaza Strip in terms of communications and mediation carried out by many parties to work to break and end the siege on the strip.”

An Egyptian delegation has been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker a renewal of an informal truce under which Israel committed to easing its 13-year blockade of Gaza in return for calm on the frontier between the two.

It was joined this week by Qatar’s Gaza envoy Mohammed al-Emadi who delivered the latest tranche of $30m in aid to the territory on Tuesday before holding talks with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

Sources close to the Qatari delegation said Israeli officials had told al-Emadi they were willing to end a punitive ban on fuel deliveries for Gaza’s power plant and ease their blockade if there was an end to the incendiary balloons.

Financial aid for the impoverished territory from gas-rich Qatar had been a significant component of the truce, first agreed in November 2018 and renewed several times since.

Under those terms, Israel had said it would take other measures to alleviate unemployment of more than 50 percent in the territory of some two million people. Those have yet to materialise.

The Pakistani vs the Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel)

It’s now Pakistan vs Saudi Arabia

August 30, 2020

The Pakistani establishment i.e. the army headquarters, GHQ, with its civilian face, Prime Minister Imran Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, appears to have decided to shed off its close ties with Saudi Arabia to strengthen its alliance with Turkey, Iran and Malaysia that too under the Chinese umbrella.

Undeterred by the Saudi Arab’s refusal to offer petrol on prolonged credit line that too accompanied by the demand for the return of a few billion dollars given to it, the relations between these two allies have come to a new low.

Pakistan is convinced that since it holds the nuclear sword represents the ultimate power of Islam in the region, the Arab world needs it more than it needs them. It has an element of surprise, because the two countries have close defense and financial ties. A brigade of Pakistani army is stationed at Riyadh. It has also given intensive training in modern warfare to the Arabs

It is believed that the GHQ’s decision to take paradigm shift in the established foreign policy could not have been possible without the Chinese promptings. Earlier, it has been mostly toeing the US-Arab agenda. With a “puppet” prime minister as its civilian face, the decision to change the foreign policy could have been done only by the army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa. Under a sham democracy with most of the country’s politicians implicated in cooked up corruption charges, Bajwa is the sole ruler of the country. He is finally taking Pakistan finally to the Chinese orbit of influence, especially when the USA and China are confronting each other that too amidst the pandemic of COVID-19 and China’s growing belligerence in the international affairs.

One of the pro-democracy channels run by Pakistanis in London, even called Khan “shameless, thankless and even gaddar or traitor”. They have also traced the history of corruption in his family. His father was dismissed from a government job for taking bribes during the regime of Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto. Also, most of the Pakistanis living outside their country, blame army for the civil war that had led to secession of its eastern wing to become Bangladesh. They apprehend that Bajwa and his puppet, Khan, may hand over Baluchistan finally to China.

The continuous USA pressure to dismantle its deeps state proxies against India and Afghanistan appears to have finally convinced the GHQ that it has finally found a much more trusted ally and patron in China than USA. It does not need the pro-west Arabs anymore. Meanwhile, China has also extended huge financial support to Pakistan to pay off the Saudi debt. With Iran-China tie-up, maybe, Pakistani establishment is correct that its fuel needs to be met without any hassle. Its dependence on the Saudi Arab is no more required.

Earlier, the power equations within the middle-east had started shifting following the drones attacks in September 2019 on Saudi’s Armco oil processing facilities at Abqaid and Khrais. It is believed the attacks have had Iranian connection, though the Houthis movement in Yamen had claimed that it had attacked the Saudi facilities. The Saudi officials stated that in this attack, Iranian missiles and bombs were used.

Pakistan has been pursuing to make new alliances with Turkey and Malaysia. Earlier, it had tried to maintain its neutrality on the disputes in the region in Yemen, Iraq and Libya.

Its frustration with the Arab world increased with the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) following its refusal to endorse Pakistan’s policy on Jammu and Kashmir. In its assessment, the army finds Pakistan’s bigger and assertive role in the region under the Chinese umbrella.

It is also being pointed out that except China, Pakistan’s new found allies, Malaysia and Turkey, are in no position to offer huge financial support the country needs. It means that we must reaffirm our ties with Saudi Arabia. It is also being asked, “Why Pakistan should annoy Saudi Arabia, when China is keeping good relationship with Saudi Arab as well as with Iran.

Meanwhile, Chinese strategy is to cement its new alliances in the region before the US presidential polls. In its bid to wean away from the west, China is keen that Pakistan should follow its policies in the region. It appears, GHQ has taken the Chinese advice seriously that after the elections, USA and China would “reinvent” their business ties to end the ongoing confrontation.

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