Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

 

By WILLIAM K. STEVENSPublished: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.
For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California.Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California,  said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more  vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.
New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major QuakeA couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles. Thanks

Tunnels Under the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel’s Underground Sensory Concrete Barrier Exposes Tunnel for First Time

by Seth Frantzman

Defense News

October 30, 2020

Route of the tunnel intercepted by the IDF on October 20. (IDF)

JERUSALEM — Israel located and exposed a tunnel being built from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory on Oct. 20 in the first detection by the Israel Defense Forces’ Sensory Concrete Barrier that is based along the border.

“The discovery of the tunnel last week is a huge achievement for the state of Israel and the Army,” said Maj. Amir, whose last name was withheld for security reasons. “It was very impressive and professional, and we managed to stop the enemy from advancing.”

The tunnel was located in Israel, across from the Palestinian city of Khan Yunis. While the tunnel did penetrate Israel’s border, it did not cross the Sensory Concrete Barrier and there was no threat to nearby Israeli communities, the IDF said.

“The Sensory Concrete Barrier, which was built over the last years and will be completed soon, provided the necessary indication for IDF engineering forces to locate the offensive terror tunnel,” according to the IDF.

The Israeli government reported that it will gather information about the tunnel through a technical evaluation, but it has not released many details about how the tunnel was constructed. Decisions about how to neutralize or destroy it have not been released.

Gaza has been festooned with tunnels for years, some of which were used for smuggling from Egypt and others to carry out attacks inside Israel. The Israeli government holds the militant group Hamas responsible for activity in Gaza.

The tunnel threat peaked during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war when 32 tunnels, of which 14 penetrated Israeli territory, were discovered. Israel began work on an anti-tunnel barrier in the wake of the conflict, and the U.S. has supported Israel’s efforts with up to $120 million since 2016.

Israel has used a combination of new technologies as well as intelligence and surveillance methods to identify and destroy up to 20 tunnels since 2014. Israel also constructed a multilayer barrier around its territory, with its third section launched in February 2019. The underground portion, estimated at $833 million in 2018, was reported to reach “dozens of meters” into the ground, although today Israel does not release specifics about the final version of the underground barrier. The underground barrier, estimated to be fully complete in March 2021, will stretch about 40 miles around the strip.

Amir, who commands an engineering unit in Israel’s southern region where the Gaza Strip is located, compared the struggle against the tunnel threat to a chess game. His unit is responsible for the developing solutions to the threat and “locating and adapting technological means” to manage operations in the field. He told Defense News that the protective barrier worked quickly and accurately. In this chess game comparison, Hamas is always trying to find ways around Israel’s multiple layers of security, which include electro-optical sensors, UAVs and a maritime barrier.

Amir has experience against the tunnel threat going back to the 2014 war and said he has witnessed Israeli’s technological advances. However, most of the specifics of these advances, such as which sensors are on the barrier or how they operate, are a closely guarded secret.

The IDF officer said his team is pleased about its achievement. “Our forces and engineering forces are very confident in their capabilities, and any operational success entails great excitement that we were able to thwart something very big and keep the residents safe,” he said.

However, he added, Hamas will likely adapt and try other methods. “History speaks for itself. The enemy will always try to change himself and invest greater efforts and think of other ways. Of course the technology and the obstacle [of the barrier] are a very big challenge, and of course the barrier lowers the risk considerably.”

Israel’s experience with the barrier can help address other threats and potentially on other frontiers, the officer said. Each area near Israel’s border is unique, and the country has put in place sensors and technology combined with intelligence-gathering methods to provide a complete picture around the Gaza Strip. Amir said after the barrier is completed in March, the IDF will concentrate on the next step: preparing for new threats yet to come.

Already Israel has faced a threat of incendiary balloons following the country’s success over the last decade in using the Iron Dome air defense system to shoot down thousands of Hamas-launched rockets. Israel has used lasers against the balloons in some instances.

Seth Frantzman is a Ginsburg-Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and senior Middle East correspondent at The Jerusalem Post.

Yet Another Wind of God’s Wrath: Jeremiah 23

Tropical Storm Eta forms in the Caribbean and ties for most named storms in a season

China unveils her nuclear horn: Daniel 7

WW3: China unveils ‘net of fire’ weapon as they hold surprise military crisis talk with US

By NAOMI ADEDOKUN

PUBLISHED: 17:37, Fri, Oct 30, 2020

UPDATED: 17:45, Fri, Oct 30, 2020

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has released footage of a recently conducted live-fire drill. The exercise, which was to practice operating a new anti-air weaponry system in Guangdong, has sparked World War 3 fears. A video posted by Chinese state-affiliated media company, Global Times, demonstrated the capabilities of the eastern state amid reports of military talks with the US for crisis communication.

According to Global Times, several vehicle-mounted antiaircraft artillery systems were used.

They can be seen firing at the same time in the video.

The artillery shoots up to 10 bullets a second.

This creates a “net” of fire for a split second.

According to Global Times, several vehicle-mounted antiaircraft artillery systems were used. (Image: GLOBAL TIMES)

The PLA’s 75th Group Army were responsible for holding the live-fire drill in Guangdong.

Group armies are comparable to a US division rather than a corps.

They are made up of various modern units such as infantry, artillery, armoured signal, antichemical warfare, engineer, air defence, air, and electronic countermeasure units.

The 75th Army military headquarters is located in Kunming City, Yunnan Province.

The PLA’s 75th Group Army were responsible for holding the live-fire drill in Guangdong. (Image: GLOBAL TIMES)

China and the US held a video conference meeting about military crisis communication this week, according to Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian.

This comes after US Defence Secretary Mark Esper was forced to deny reports that America was studying a plan to attack the South China Sea using a drone in the event that the presidential election was not looking favourable for Donald Trump.

Tensions between the two militaries have been high regarding the South China Sea this year.

Mr Esper said the United States “has no intention of creating a military crisis with the Chinese”.

Mr Wu added: “We urge the U.S. to walk the talk, keep its promise, and take measures to prevent provoking China military in the air and sea.”

The Defence Secretary has been touring Asia with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge countries to cooperate with the US to confront the security threats posed by China.

China has criticised the fellow superpower for having a Cold War mentality and zero-sum mindset.

A Pentagon statement about the meeting read: “The two sides agreed on the importance of establishing mechanisms for timely communication during a crisis, as well as the need to maintain regular communication channels to prevent crisis and conduct post-crisis assessment.”

Russia and the U.S. WILL NOT GET a Timeout on Nuclear Weapons

Russia and the U.S. Need a Timeout on Nuclear Weapons

October 30, 2020, 10:30 AM EDT

More than enough.

Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

I’ve never sat down and negotiated a nuclear arms agreement, but I spent much of my military career acting on the decisions made at those tables. And with a landmark deal between the U.S. and Russia set to expire in a few months, the topic has a new urgency.

My first job in the Navy, at the height of the Cold War, included management of the nuclear-tipped antisubmarine rockets onboard a destroyer in the U.S. Pacific Fleet. I could see both the incredible destructive power of these tactical nukes, which were under the direct control of a captain in his late 30s, and the destabilizing effect such systems can have.

The stakes are vastly higher when it comes to negotiations involving the possible use of strategic nuclear weapons, such as those on intercontinental ballistic missiles, which have the potential to end civilization as we know it. In my final military job, as supreme allied commander at NATO, I argued contentiously with senior Russian officials that U.S. Aegis missile systems in Eastern Europe — which are intended primarily to avert an Iranian attack on the continent — could not threaten their strategic nuclear force. It was a debate that went around and around in circles.

The simple truth is that both sides have a vital interest in reducing the number of strategic nuclear weapons systems — and likewise moving away from tactical nukes, the less-powerful weapons geared to use on the battlefield. Now the U.S. and Russia are performing a complicated negotiating dance around replacing the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty before it expires next February. For the sake of the entire world, Washington and Moscow have to be able to get to “yes” and “da,” respectively.

If the limits expire, things could get dangerous. Obviously, either side could immediately start building more of its existing systems, breaking the sensible limits painstakingly negotiated by my good friend Ambassador Rose Gottemoeller, the former deputy secretary general of NATO. Those currently allow a strategic nuclear arsenal of no more than 1,550 deployed warheads, and 700 missiles and heavy bombers each to carry them. (Both sides are able to store more warheads in stockpiles.)

Russia and the U.S. have the ability to make more-advanced systems as well, all of which would be very destabilizing. Failure to extend New START would continue the march to an unnecessary new Cold War. And it would bring us closer than ever to midnight on the Doomsday Clock maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Simply extending the treaty on current terms for one to three years would be the best start, along with a pledge from each side to eventually re-negotiate. Such a breather would give time to avoid the rush to improve and upgrade nuclear arsenals. And it would signal to the world that the two nuclear superpowers can agree to come to the table.

Russia has now offered a one year-extension of the status quo on strategic weapons, while the Donald Trump administration favors a longer period of up to five years, along with several preconditions such as adding limits on tactical nuclear weapons and even insisting China be part of any such deal. (China has a relatively small number of intercontinental nuclear weapons, perhaps 300.)

The administration’s goals are overambitious for now — particularly given that Trump may not be in office in three months — so it would be smart to take up Russia’s offer.

Eventually, Washington should seek an agreement that includes, most fundamentally, even tighter limits on the warheads aboard intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach each other’s shores. Then there are new systems coming into play — notably nuclear-powered torpedoes with strategic nuclear warheads, and boost-glide, ultra-high-speed versions of ICBMs — that will require new kinds of restrictions and possible inspection regimes.

Another obvious element involves limiting the technological advancement of nuclear-powered cruise missiles that could (theoretically) fly around the world before striking. Additionally, new boost-glide weapons could perhaps be deployed on long-range bombers and nuclear submarines, capabilities that would have to be put up for negotiations.

Assuming all these issues can be hashed out, that would cover only strategic forces. There is an equally strong need to put in place some effective limits for tactical nuclear weapons. Long-range tactical systems at sea (aboard either surface ships, like my old destroyer, or attack or ballistic-missile submarines) are highly destabilizing. This is because it is impossible for the enemy to tell whether the weapon coming off the deck of the ship or from under the sea is a strategic or a tactical nuke, or even a conventionally armed cruise missile like the Tomahawk.

Finally, as President Reagan famously said, “Trust, but verify.” All of the modifications, limits and deployment agreements that emerge from a new pact will require attendant inspection regimes. Perhaps it is time for the two nations to move at least partly to a third-party verification concept, although both sides will resist that because they will be suspicious of motives and impartiality of the inspectors. But it would be worth exploring whether one of the United Nations agencies that oversee international weapons controls, such as the Office of Disarmament Affairs, could play that role.

Based on my own experience over decades of involvement in inspection regimes, I’d assess them in general as imperfect but certainly better than the alternatives. Should the U.S. press for tighter inspections than in the past? Of course. But Washington cannot let that be a pre-emptive deal breaker.

Each side will find arguments to slow down or even stop the negotiations in hopes of pressuring the other into concessions. A second Trump or a Joe Biden administration might insist on making China a third party, but that simply won’t happen. Likewise, Russia’s unwarranted obsession with ballistic-missile defenses and the American antimissile systems in Eastern Europe will present another stumbling block.

All this makes for one long list of tricky issues to be hashed out if New START is to get a new life. It would be in America’s interest to agree to at least a one-year timeout to continue the conversation — regardless of which party ends up in the White House.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:

James Stavridis at jstavridis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net

James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also an operating executive consultant at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty Associates.

Muslims Protesting Against Free Speech

Tens of thousands of Muslims across the world protest Macron’s stance on French cartoons

By Associated Press

4:27am Oct 31, 2020

Tens of thousands of Muslims, from Pakistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian territories, poured out of prayer services to join anti-France protests on Friday, as the French president’s vow to protect the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad continues to roil the Muslim world.

Hardline Islamic groups across the region have seized on the the French government’s staunch secularist stance as an affront to Islam, rallying their supporters and stirring up rage.

Demonstrations in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad turned violent as some 2,000 people who tried to march toward the French Embassy were pushed back by police firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons. Crowds of Islamist activists hanged an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron from a highway overpass after pounding it furiously with their shoes. Several demonstrators were wounded in clashes with police as authorities pushed to evict activists from the area surrounding the embassy.

Supporters of religious group burn a representation of a French flag during a rally against French President Emmanuel Macron and republishing of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad they deem blasphemous, in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 (AP)

Protesters try to climb on a shipping container at a rally against French President Emmanuel Macron and republishing of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad they deem blasphemous, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 (AP)