January 20, 2010New York City isn’t immune to earthquakes; a couple of small tremors measuring about 2.5 on the Richter scale even struck back in 2001 and 2002.But on August 10, 1884, a more powerful earthquake hit. Estimated from 4.9 to 5.5 in magnitude, the tremor made houses shake, chimneys fall, and residents wonder what the heck was going on, according to a New York Timesarticle two days later.The quake was subsequently thought to have been centered off Far Rockaway or Coney Island.It wasn’t the first moderate quake, and it won’t be the last. In a 2008 Columbia University study, seismologists reported that the city is crisscrossed with several fault lines, one along 125th Street. With that in mind, New Yorkers should expect a 5.0 or higher earthquake centered here every 100 years, the seismologists say.Translation: We’re about 30 years overdue. Lucky for us the city adopted earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)
President Donald Trump was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday “out of an abundance of caution” following his coronavirus diagnosis, the White House said.
Trump was seen wearing a mask as he departed the White House shortly after 6:15 p.m. ET and walked toward his helicopter, Marine One. He waved to the press but did not stop for questions.
The move, which appears to mark an escalation in the efforts to treat the president, is being made “as a precautionary measure,” a senior administration official told NBC News.
U.S. President Donald Trump boards the Marine One helicopter to fly to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after testing positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19, from the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters
“President Trump remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement to reporters at the White House.
“Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days. President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the First Lady,” McEnany said.
After his departure from the White House, the president’s official Twitter account shared a video of him appearing to speak from the Oval Office.
“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support,” Trump said. “I’m going to Walter Reed hospital, I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well. So thank you very much, I appreciate it, I will never forget it. Thank you.”
The president’s transfer to the medical facility comes less than a day after he announced his diagnosis. First lady Melania Trump also tested positive for Covid-19.
Earlier Friday afternoon, the White House physician said Trump was “fatigued but in good spirits.” The physician, Dr. Sean Conley, also said Trump, 74, had been given an experimental antibody cocktail treatment, and was taking several nutritional supplements as well.
Conley said the first lady, who turned 50 earlier this year, “remains well with only a mild cough and headache.”
The president announced his diagnosis on Twitter early Friday morning. He has since stayed off the social media platform and out of sight, with White House officials providing few updates about his health throughout the day.
NBC, citing three people familiar with his condition, reported Friday afternoon that Trump has a low-grade fever.
U.S. President Donald Trump disembarks from the Marine One helicopter followed by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as he arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after the White House announced that he “will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days” after testing positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., October 2, 2020.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
The diagnosis has raised questions about the continuity of government if the president is incapacitated. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is second in line after Vice President Mike Pence to assume the duties of the presidency, said earlier in the day that the “continuity of government is always in place.”
White House communications director Alyssa Farah assured in a statement to NBC on Friday that “the president is in charge” and that power has not been transferred to Pence.
“It’s not necessarily an indication the president’s condition has worsened. I think that prudence would want to put him into a place where you have access to facilities, in case his condition does change,” former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC.
“What we’ve seen with patients who are older, with Covid, is they can decompensate very quickly and so it could be that they want to have him in a facility that if, God forbid, he does get worse quickly, they can have medical resources available,” Gottlieb said.
— CNBC’s Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this report.
A tropical depression is likely to form in or near the Gulf of Mexico this weekend, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning.
It’s one of two disturbances forecasters were tracking, and it’s too early to tell if either system could impact Louisiana or the Gulf Coast.
The other disturbance is in the Atlantic and expected to head to the Caribbean.
The shaded area on the graphic is where a storm could develop and is not a track. The National Hurricane Center releases a track when a tropical depression forms or is about to form.
Here’s what to know about the tropics as of 7 a.m. Thursday.
Tropical depression likely to form
image via National Hurricane Center▲
A disturbance in the Caribbean has a 70% chance of developing into a tropical depression within five days, forecasters said.
As of 7 a.m. Thursday, the disturbance — a tropical wave — was over the west-central Caribbean and was producing a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms.
Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for development, according to Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center.
A tropical depression is likely to form over the northwestern Caribbean Sea or the south-central Gulf of Mexico, Berg wrote, possibly before the system reaches the Yucatan peninsula on Saturday.
Residents in Belize, the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and western Cuba should monitor this disturbance, forecasters said.
Disturbance heading for Caribbean
image via National Hurricane Center▲
Another tropical wave is just east of the Lesser Antilles and is producing a large area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms, forecasters said.
The disturbance is expected to move west at 15 to 20 mph during the next several days.
Environmental conditions could become a little more conducive for development when the system is over the central or western Caribbean Sea early next week, forecasters said.
It has a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression within five days.
What else to know?
Systems are named once they strengthen into a tropical storm. The next available name is Gamma. Forecasters moved to the Greek alphabet in September after using all the available names for the 2020 Atlantic season.
No other tropical cyclones are expected to form in the next five days in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
The Atlantic hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
Don’t miss a storm update this hurricane season. Sign up for breaking newsletters. Follow our Hurricane Center Facebook page.
Carlie Kollath Wells is a morning reporter at NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.
Thursday, 1 October, 2020 – 16:45
FILE PHOTO – People enter the State Department Building in Washington, US, January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
The United States will not hesitate to act to protect its personnel in Iraq, where it considers Iranian-backed militias that have attacked US targets to be the country’s “single biggest problem,” a senior State Department official said on Thursday.
David Schenker, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, issued the warning when asked during a briefing about US threats to close its embassy in Baghdad.
He declined to comment on what he called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “private diplomatic conversations” but added, “We can’t tolerate the threats to our people, our men and women serving abroad.”
Schenker did not confirm or deny a reported US threat to withdraw its troops and close its embassy in Baghdad unless the attacks against them stop.
He also said the US will continue to impose sanctions on Lebanese individuals allied with Hezbollah or engaged in corruption.
Schenker told reporters that further sanctions remained in play even after Israel and Lebanon announced earlier on Thursday they had agreed on a framework for the coming negotiations on their maritime border dispute.
Eric BrewerOctober 1, 2020
The factors that drove South Korea to pursue nuclear weapons were quite clear: Pyongyang’s “unabated hostility toward Seoul” and the fact that “South Korean confidence in the U.S. security commitment…has declined.” That intelligence assessment was written by the CIA in 1978 about developments earlier that decade but it could easily be written today about South Korea or a number of other U.S. allies.
Back then, America’s security partners were alarmed by the Nixon Doctrine, which conveyed to allies that they would need to provide for their own defense; U.S. troop withdrawals from the region; and Washington’s desire to mend relations with China. This environment drove South Korea and Taiwan to pursue nuclear weapons.
Today, it is President Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy. His hostility to what he refers to as “so-called allies” and his embrace of the very dictators U.S. alliances are designed to defend against are leading allies and partners across the globe to wonder whether Washington can no longer be counted on. As in the past, regional threats are growing and the United States is once again planning to pull troops from allied territory. It should not come as a shock if a U.S. ally or partner were to determine today that it needed to launch, or relaunch, its own effort to develop nuclear weapons or the capability to quickly build them.
Since the 1990s, America has become accustomed to thinking about nuclear proliferation as a problem associated with “rogue states”: Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Iran, and Syria. But throughout much of the nuclear age, U.S. allies, partners, and non-aligned countries were of greatest proliferation concern. West Germany, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Sweden, Egypt, Brazil, and others explored or pursued nuclear weapons—and India, Pakistan, and Israel acquired them.
One of the reasons Washington made extensive security commitments throughout the world—including by offering the protection of its nuclear umbrella—is so that countries would not feel compelled to develop their own nuclear weapons. Critically, that requires those countries to believe the United States would come to their defense if attacked. But as our recent report on proliferation dangers highlights, confidence in U.S. reliability is eroding. Over the past three and a half years Trump’s actions have put that alliance system at risk, fomenting some of the very same doubts and insecurities among U.S. partners that led allies to consider nuclear weapons in the past.
Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on whether the United States would honor its security commitments. He has implied that whether Washington comes to the defense of its allies would depend on whether they have paid their “dues” into the alliance—a not-so-subtle attempt to strong-arm allies to increase their defense expenditures and compensate the U.S. for costs associated with U.S. bases. Trump said he could “go either way” on keeping U.S. troops in South Korea and Japan—where such U.S. commitments have helped deter U.S. adversaries and prevent proliferation for decades. Adding insult to injury, he reportedly mocked the accents of South Korean President Moon and former Japanese Prime Minister Abe to a crowd of donors, while bragging that Moon had “caved” to Trump in negotiations over cost sharing. It’s hard to see how these allies would believe that, when the chips are down, Trump would come to their defense today.
Trump has talked approvingly of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and pushed to bring Russia back into the G7 over the objection of other members. Although his administration has recently taken a tougher tact against China, Trump tweeted amidst protests in Hong Kong in August 2019 that President Xi was a “great leader who very much has the respect of his people,” and that he is in a ‘tough business.’ And he has repeatedly praised the intellect and governing prowess of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It is hard to see how allies would believe that Trump takes their interests in to account, and historically such fears of abandonment have been an important motivating factor for nuclear weapons. Indeed, this fear of U.S. abandonment was key to West Germany’s exploration of nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s. The potential for U.S. troop withdrawal and growing Soviet threats led then Chancellor Adenauer to conclude that “NATO is finished” and that Germany could not afford to “remain a nuclear protectorate” of the United States.
Some dismiss President Trump’s rhetoric as cheap talk, but unfortunately these views have manifested in administration policy. Trump’s sudden announcement following his first meeting with Kim Jong-Un that the United States and South Korea would suspend joint military exercises (which Trump referred to as “war games,” using the North Korean terminology, and which he later went on to dismiss as a waste of U.S. money) shocked South Korean officials, who were not consulted beforehand. The initial U.S. demand that Seoul triple the amount it pays as part of the cost-sharing arrangement for U.S. bases on the peninsula (known as the Special Measures Agreement) has caused South Koreans to wonder whether the President was trying to break up the alliance. Finally, the U.S. has announced plans to withdraw one-third of U.S. troops from Germany—no doubt a decision taken in part because of Trump’s dispute with German Chancellor Angela Merkel—and is reviewing U.S. troop levels in South Korea as well. It should therefore come as no shock if an allied head of state uttered the same words allegedly used by then South Korean President Park before creating the organization that would lead South Korea’s covert nuclear and missile program: “We need to free ourselves from being jerked around by America’s policy positions.”
To make matters worse, Trump has implied that the United States won’t impose any penalties on allies for deciding to go nuclear. His mostly-forgotten comments during the campaign that he would be okay with Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia having nuclear weapons have new resonance given his clear desire to pull U.S. troops back and allow countries to fend for themselves. For example, administration officials have tended to downplay and excuse concerns over potential Saudi nuclear and missile activity. When questioned whether the U.S. had any objections to Saudi threats to produce nuclear weapons, the White House Press Secretary punted, saying that she was not aware of any U.S. policy on that matter. In doing so, the administration is sending a message to allies that nonproliferation doesn’t matter, especially for allies willing to spend billions on U.S. defense equipment. Here again, history would suggest that how the U.S. treats one allied proliferator can be a motive for another: South Korea’s President Park believed that Washington would come to accept South Korea’s weapons program, just as it had Israel’s.
So far no country is openly dashing for the bomb, but allies appear to be hedging their bets. There has been an uptick in the debate in South Korea over whether to develop nuclear weapons. Germany appears increasingly willing to consider a European alternative to the U.S.-provided nuclear umbrella. Saudi Arabia is improving its nuclear capabilities and keeping its options open to enrich and reprocess. Officials in countries from Turkey to Brazil have spoken approvingly of developing nuclear weapons. A number of countries—including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Japan, Australia and South Korea are improving or plan to improve their domestic missile or space programs, thereby providing pathways to potential nuclear weapons delivery options. For some of these countries, the development of these capabilities is tied to concerns about U.S. staying power.
It is hard to imagine that the U.S. alliance system—and Washington’s nonproliferation track record—could survive another four years of a Trump presidency. By comparison, a Biden administration would bring a degree of desperately needed strategic competence and international leadership that would provide an important course correction. But it is not clear that the U.S. would be out of the woods entirely. Some differences with allies run deeper than the current president. Indeed, a Biden administration would still face challenges managing the widening strategic divides with Saudi and Turkey, and several potential Biden administration policy objectives—from changes to U.S. nuclear use policy, to a continued focus on burden sharing—could be in tension with plugging U.S. credibility gaps and strengthening nonproliferation.
These challenges are not insurmountable, but it would be naïve to assume that the United States can simply go back to status-quo ante. By staking out extreme positions with few political consequences—indeed, the Republican Party has embraced many of Trump’s positions—Trump has altered the terms of the debate. Trumpism—and its characteristics of retrenchment, nationalism, and hostility toward the U.S.-created international order—will survive after he leaves office and shape U.S. political discourse. An extreme oscillation between engagement and pull back from the international community is, for many allies, no more tenable than U.S. withdrawal. And this is precisely their concern: That Trump is a harbinger of things to come. That the U.S. is walking away from the international order that it built and led for more than 70 years.
Countries do not take lightly the decision to develop nuclear weapons. However, history suggests that a total loss of confidence in U.S. security guarantees can cause allies to pursue them. It is almost impossible to know how close we are to that point now. Trumps actions certainly get us closer.
Eric Brewer is Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at the Project on Nuclear Issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Abby Pokraka, Responsible Statecraft Sep 30, 2020, 11:35 PM
REUTERS/Rupak De ChowdhuriDemonstrators shout slogans as they burn an effigy depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest against China, in Kolkata, June 18, 2020.
• The disputed borderlands between India, China, and Pakistan are increasingly becoming a flashpoint for conflict.
• The world can’t ignore these growing challenges, and while the international community should look to help manage the situation, direct US involvement is probably not the best way forward, writes Abby Pokraka, a program coordinator for the Centre for Arms-Control and Non-Proliferation.
For decades, India and Pakistan have clashed over Kashmir, the mountainous region both countries claim. But to make matters more complicated, China has a stake in the area, too. The Aksai Chin region located between Kashmir and Tibet is under Chinese control and has been a source of conflict between India and China since 1962.
The borderlands between these three nuclear-armed states is increasingly a flashpoint for conflict. The international community ignores these growing challenges at its peril and should be looking for ways to help manage potential crises in the region.
And while the United States can play a role, in this particular instance, direct US involvement is probably not the best way forward.
ReutersKashmiri women pass Indian security personnel after India’s government scrapped special constitutional status for Kashmir, in Srinagar, August 11, 2019.
The Kashmir region has been disputed since British India was partitioned into India and Pakistan in 1947. The first Indo-Pakistani war began after armed Pakistani tribesmen invaded Kashmir. The ceasefire agreement on January 1, 1949 established the Line of Control (LoC) â€” the de facto border between Indian-controlled and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.
The second Indo-Pakistani war took place in August 1965 after a series of clashes across the LoC, with a third war starting when Pakistan erupted in civil war in 1971.
Tensions only escalated when India became a nuclear power in 1974 and Pakistan in 1998. Conflict across the LoC continues today, with the most recent clash occurring in February 2019. It was the deadliest altercation in three decades, with 40 members of India’s police force killed.
India and China have a similarly violent history over the Line of Actual Control, which divides Chinese-controlled territory from Indian-controlled territory high up in the Himalayas. After the 1962 Sino-Indian War, an uneasy truce was established, but regular conflicts create a simmering tension between the two countries.
The Indian government claims that Chinese troops cross the LAC multiple times a year, leading to increased volatility between the nations. Chinese forces killed 20 Indian soldiers in hand-to-hand combat along the border in June.
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty ImagesIndian soldiers in the foothills of a mountain range near Leh, capital of Ladakh, on the border with China, June 24, 2020.
This was the deadliest confrontation between the two nations in four decades, and negotiations did not diffuse the situation. Tempers flared again when China and India accused each other of illegally trespassing on the other’s side and firing warning shots in early September, which would be the first time guns were used amid tensions. Little has been done to resolve any of this.
China was drawn into a dispute between India and Pakistan when India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy in August 2019 and wanted to incorporate parts of “Xinjiang and Tibet into its Ladakh union territory,” which China believes violates its dominion due to its occupation of Tibet. It appears that over the last year the situation in Kashmir has not gotten better.
“Mass disenfranchisement of Kashmiri Muslims, deteriorating security, economic backsliding and a contentious political agenda” negatively contributes to the tension between India and Pakistan, exacerbating the historical friction in the region.
It seems clear that after decades of poor relations, the tensions in this part of the world may reach a boiling point.
REUTERS/Danish Ismail/File PhotoAn Indian policeman at an anti-India protest in Srinagar, November 4, 2016.
Finding a solution to these half-century conflicts seems daunting, but it is necessary. While many nations have fought throughout history, a conflict between nuclear-armed states carries an unbearable risk of escalation.
To start, these countries can take small steps to stabilise the security of the region and pave the way for better relations. Starting a dialogue, bilateral or trilateral, can improve communication in the longer term, which can help reduce the likelihood of conflict.
Establishing crisis communications was an important step the United States and the Soviet Union took in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and de-escalation practices the two countries implemented in the early 1960s remained in place through the end of the Cold War.
A third party could help facilitate regional discussions. Given its history in the region, the United States might have seemed like a good option for such facilitation, but that is not the case at this time.
The Trump administration’s offer to mediate negotiations between India and Pakistan in July 2019 was generally ignored. Beyond that, the administration’s own growing Cold War posture towards Beijung has deteriorated whatever diplomatic leverage it might have had in this situation. This week, President Trump took aim at China before the United Nations, blaming it for the global COVID pandemic.
At this point, there is no reason China would see the United States as a desirable mediator for any regional conflict.
Manish Swarup/AP PhotoIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping/
Moreover, it may not be America’s responsibility to step into the void. Perhaps there is an opportunity for other nations to take that lead. China and India both have substantial trade relationships with Russia, which may be willing to moderate discussions.
Of course, Russia’s own differences with China might complicate such an effort. The United Kingdom has made efforts in recent years to better its relationship with India and Pakistan, putting London in the position to be a potential mediator. The Gulf states, with the help of the United States, have diffused tensions between India and Pakistan in the past, so perhaps they could offer further assistance.
In the meantime, friction among China, India, and Pakistan continues to grow. The only way to diffuse the tension and prevent destructive escalation is through diplomacy.
Other countries need to step up and work to reduce the hostilities. Make no mistake, a large-scale, regional conflict among nuclear-armed states would have global consequences.
October 1, 2020: As the result of a joint American-Israeli effort an Israel firm has created a new quad-copter optimized to take down enemy quad-copters and small fixed-wing UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). Called Skylord it has been tested for over a year in southern Israel (Gaza) to bring down the kites and helium balloons and Hamas has been using from Gaza to transport incendiaries or small explosives into southern Israel. Skylord has brought down 2,500 of these devices so far.
Skylord is a quadcopter with an AR (Augmented Reality) operator control system based on FPS (First Person Shooter) handheld controller used in many commercial video games. After launching Skylord the operators puts on the AR headset that gives him a view from the UAV. The operator can then home in on the enemy UAV and use a long flexible and detachable “tail” carried under Skylord until the tail makes contact with the enemy UAV rotors or propeller and brings it down. The tail automatically detaches from Skylord when it snags another UAV. The guidance system includes the ability to put the cross hairs on another UAV than switch to “automatic intercept” mode which keeps after the target until it is close enough for the operator to bring the other UAV down, or just take high res pictures of it.
Skylord can carry devices weighing up to one kilogram (2.2 pound) and this can include electronic devices that will jam GPS and most UAV control signals. A net can also be used or anything else developers can come up with. In Gaza Skylord carried a tail that just punctures balloons, bring down the incendiary/explosives carrying devices used by Hamas.
Skylord is fast, moving at up to 80 meters a second, enabling it quickly close in on and bring down the target UAV. Skylord can then automatically return to the operator to be equipped with a new tail device and sent back into the air in less than ten seconds. An advanced (heavier) version of Skylord is being tested by American troops. Skylord is meant to be constantly upgraded, especially when it comes to devices that will bring down an enemy UAV.
Israeli firms have already been developing a number of ground-based devices to bring down the Hamas balloons. For example, Light Blade is an air defense weapon designed to detect and shoot down balloons. These Hamas devices cause more psychological than physical damage but the Israelis threatened are voters, and the devices do cause casualties or, more often, property damage and brush fires. The thousands of rocket, mortar and now kite and balloon attacks from Gaza over the last fifteen years has created a demand for specialized weapons to deal with the menace.
Light Blade works because of another new techy; SupervisIR. This is a radar that can detect small, slow-moving, low altitude targets and pass that data on to a weapons system. When combined with Light Blade, over 90 percent of available targets were detected, tracked and destroyed by the Light Blade variable focus laser. The ability of the Light Blade laser to focus into a powerful enough beam to bring down the balloons or kites was an important breakthrough. This means the laser beam is “eye safe” if it hits anyone in a passing aircraft. The beam focuses only long enough to burn through the balloons or kites and bring them down. Light Blade can hit targets within five kilometers of the truck (pickup or hummer type) mounted laser and fire control system.