The science behind the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

The science behind the earthquake that shook Southern New England

Did you feel it? At 9:10 am EST Sunday morning, a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck just south of Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, which is a census-designated place in Dartmouth. If you felt it, report it!

While minor earthquakes do happen from time to time in New England, tremors that are felt by a large number of people and that cause damage are rare.

Earthquake Report

The earthquake was originally measured as a magnitude 4.2 on the Richter scale by the United States Geological Surgey (USGS) before changing to a 3.6.

Earthquakes in New England and most places east of the Rocky Mountains are much different than the ones that occur along well-known fault lines in California and along the West Coast.

Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts fall nearly in the center of the North American Plate, one of 15 (seven primary, eight secondary) that cover the Earth.

Earth’s tectonic plates

Tectonic plates move ever-so-slowly, and as they either push into each other, pull apart, or slide side-by-side, earthquakes are possible within the bedrock, usually miles deep.

Most of New England’s and Long Island’s bedrock was assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent 500-300 million years ago, raising the northern Appalachian Mountains.

Plate tectonics (Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Fault lines left over from the creation of the Appalachian Mountains can still lead to earthquakes locally, and many faults remain undetected. According to the USGS, few, if any, earthquakes in New England can be linked to named faults.

While earthquakes in New England are generally much weaker compared to those on defined fault lines, their reach is still impressive. Sunday’s 3.6 was felt in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire.

USGS Community Internet Intensity Map

While M 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause damage, some minor cracks were reported on social media from the shaking.

According to the USGS, moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year.

The largest known New England earthquakes occurred in 1638 (magnitude 6.5) in Vermont or New Hampshire, and in 1755 (magnitude 5.8) offshore from Cape Ann northeast of Boston.

The most recent New England earthquake to cause moderate damage occurred in 1940 (magnitude 5.6) in central New Hampshire.

British and Canadian Horns Invade the South China Sea

And last month, the Royal Canadian Navy frigate Winnipeg passed through the contested Taiwan Strait to emphasise a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.

Beijing doesn’t want any of them in its backyard.

“By dispatching naval assets to the South China Sea, France and the UK are contributing to the US’ anti-China stratagems,” states the Beijing-controlled China Daily. 

It accuses the West of a “crafty” and “neo-imperial” scheme to support Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia “which could in turn provoke regional crisis”.

China has constructed a network of artificial island fortresses to impose an arbitrary claim over the entire South and East China Seas. It has authorised its Coast Guard to “open fire” on intruding vessels and “unauthorised” structures.

“It is not China that is responsible for the regional instability, but the US and its Quad allies, along with wannabe members such as France. They should focus on improving economic ties through trade and investment, not provoking problems between regional states,” Chinese Communist Party media warns.

French armed forces Minister Florence Parly announced earlier this month that the submarine FS Emeraude voyaged through the South China Sea to “enrich our knowledge of this area and affirm that international law is the only rule that is valid, regardless of the sea where we sail.”

Beijing was incensed.

“The French military has no place in the South China Sea,” state-controlled media declared, accusing Paris of a “destabilising” act. “It appears as though Paris is interested in expanding its destabilising neo-imperial influence into Southeast Asia too, which can only end in disaster just like it has in large swathes of Africa.”

Nevertheless, a French amphibious ship and frigate departed Toulon for South East Asia last week. The FS Tonnerre’s commanding officer told Naval News that he would “work to strengthen” France’s partnership with the US, Japan, India, and Australia.

Beijing has been increasing its military activities in the East and South China Seas in the past year. A near-constant chain of warship and aircraft manoeuvres and live-fire weapons tests have signalled its determination to enforce domination over the contested waterways.

Meanwhile, the Beijing-controlled South China Morning Post has again accused the US of “ratcheting up” tensions in the region after the destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed by on Wednesday.

It quoted People’s Liberation Eastern Theatre Command staff as saying: “Theatre troops remain on high alert and are ready to counter all threats and provocations at any time.”

Beijing’s state-controlled media has taken aim at Britain’s historic rivalry with France in a “wolf-warrior” diplomatic gibe.

“France is engaged in ‘friendly’ competition with the United Kingdom. Not wanting to feel ‘left out’, France might have mistakenly thought that it wise to join the growing militarisation of this body of water,” the China Daily asserts.

Despite the chaos and bitterness surrounding Britain’s “Brexit” separation from the European Union, the island nation has found a common cause with its cross-channel neighbours in the South China Sea.

Britain, France and Holland all have colonial ties to the region.

All maintain a degree of presence there.

Britain remains part of the 1971 Five Power Defence Arrangement designed to support its former colony, Malaysia. Signatories include Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Similarly, France maintains ties with its former colony Vietnam while managing its own Pacific territories such as Reunion Island.

And The Netherlands, which says it will send a warship to accompany HMS Queen Elizabeth, has emphasised that the United Nations Law of the Sea must form the basis of any dispute resolution.

Meanwhile, Germany is planning to send a frigate to Japan as a sign of solidarity over its East China Sea dispute with Beijing. It’s also expected to visit Australia and South Korea.

“We want to deepen our ties with our partners in the democratic camp,” Germany’s secretary for defence Thomas Silberhorn said.

Jamie Seidel is a freelance writer | @JamieSeidel

The Iranian Nuclear Deal May Be Dead

Iran Balks at Resuming Nuclear Talks with US

Iran on Sunday balked at holding an informal meeting with the United States and three European powers about reviving the 2015 accord that restrained Tehran’s nuclear development program to keep it from developing nuclear weapons.

Tehran said that before talks are held, the new U.S. administration of President Joe Biden must first lift its unilateral economic sanctions against Iran.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that “considering the recent actions and statements” by the U.S., Britain, France and Germany, “Iran does not consider this the time to hold an informal meeting with these countries,” which was proposed by the European Union foreign policy chief. Iran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

A White House spokesperson responded Sunday by expressing “disappointment” with Iran’s response, but said the U.S. is ready to “reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with JCPOA commitments,” referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the Iran nuclear deal.  

Washington will consult the other four permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Britain, China, France and Russia – plus Germany on the best way forward, the spokesperson said.  

Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal, but Biden during his presidential campaign against Trump and since he took office has said he wants to rejoin the pact that includes Russia and China. The U.S. has also opened talks with Iran over the fate of at least five American hostages being held by Tehran.

At the same time, Biden has pressured Iran militarily, ordering airstrikes last week on buildings in Syria that the Defense Department says were used by Iranian-backed militias. The U.S. said the rocket attacks were in retaliation for missile attacks on U.S. targets in neighboring Iraq.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday the attacks in Syria killed at least 22 militia fighters, although the Pentagon did not confirm the figure.

The forgotten nuclear threat: Revelation 16

The Week Staff

Constraints on nuclear proliferation have lapsed or been loosened in recent years. How great is the danger? Here’s everything you need to know:

Who has nuclear weapons?
The vast majority — some 91 percent — of the world’s 13,400 nuclear weapons are owned by the U.S. and Russia, which each have the power to render Earth an uninhabitable nuclear wasteland. The other early developers of nuclear arsenals were the U.K., China, and France. In an attempt to prevent further spread, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was adopted in 1970, pledging those five powers to eventually disarm in return for other states promising not to pursue the bomb. But more than 50 years later, all four of the countries that aren’t party to the treaty — India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea — have nuclear arsenals (although Israel has never confirmed it), and at least one signatory, Iran, has taken steps to build its own. Another treaty, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, just came into force in January, but none of the nuclear states signed it. Though public concern about nuclear war has faded since countries became preoccupied with terrorism, climate change, and now, viral pandemics, the threat remains very real. Potential triggers of nuclear conflict include India’s border disputes with both Pakistan and China, Iran’s threats to destroy Israel, Israel’s pledge to prevent Iran from getting nukes, China’s designs on Taiwan, and North Korea’s threat to South Korea.

What about arms control treaties?
Few remain. During the Reagan era, the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to slash their nuclear arsenals, but most arms control treaties since then have lapsed. The Bush administration pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, which sparked an arms race in missile-defense systems, and President Trump yanked the U.S. out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, saying that Russia had violated it. So the only remaining arms treaty the U.S. observes is New START, a pact with Russia negotiated under the Obama administration. That treaty cut the number of deployed nuclear warheads that each side can have by more than half, to 1,550. Former President Trump was planning to let the treaty expire this month. But just after taking office, President Biden agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend the treaty for five more years. Biden also will try to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

What is Iran’s capability?
Israeli intelligence says that the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist in November set Iran’s nuclear program back, and that it would need two years to build a nuclear weapon. In the early 2000s, the International Atomic Energy Agency discovered that Iran had been cheating on the NPT with a clandestine program to enrich uranium. Under the 2015 treaty negotiated by the Obama administration, Iran agreed to radically slash its stockpile of uranium and limit the number of centrifuges that it can use for enrichment. But since the Trump administration pulled out of the deal in 2018 and hit Iran with new sanctions, Iran has resumed production of 20 percent enriched uranium, getting nine-tenths of the way toward weapons-grade fuel.

What happens if Iran goes nuclear?
It would set off a chain of proliferation. Saudi Arabia, Iran’s enemy, has said it would seek nukes if Iran got them, and Turkey and Egypt could follow. The threat from North Korea, meanwhile, is alarming to Japan and South Korea, where factions have argued for the development of their own nuclear weapons as deterrents. Since it first tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, North Korea has built dozens of bombs and hundreds of missiles, and it now has intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach anywhere — including the continental United States. Our allies are now wondering, says Ivo Daalder of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, “Will you sacrifice us for you? Will you save Seattle at the price of Seoul?” The more nuclear weapons there are in the world, of course, the more likely it is that one could be fired by accident or fall into terrorist hands.

What comes next? 
The next nuclear summit — the NPT review conference held every five years — takes place in August. That will be a chance for the Biden administration to reassure allies and to open negotiations with rising power China. China is planning to double its arsenal to 200 warheads over the next decade, and it has been pouring money into new missile designs. Adm. Charles Richard, head of the U.S. strategic command, says China will soon be a nuclear peer of the U.S., just as Russia is. “For the first time ever, the U.S. is going to face two peer-capable nuclear competitors who are different, who you have to deter differently,” he said. “We have never faced that situation before.

The trouble with missile defense 
Missile defense is a system designed to shoot down incoming nuclear missiles before they hit. But if a country can shoot down, say, 100 enemy missiles, the enemy has an incentive to fire 200 to overwhelm the defense, leading to an offensive and defensive arms race. So in their arms control treaty, the U.S. and Soviets banned most missile defenses, relying instead on deterrence — the threat of mutual assured destruction. The U.S. pulled out of that pact in 2002, saying it needed the ability to defend against a launch by a terrorist or a rogue state such as Iran or North Korea. Since then, it has deployed defense systems in South Korea and sold anti-ballistic Patriot missiles to more than a dozen countries. The danger with missile defense is that if a country believes it can reliably defend itself against retaliatory nukes, it loses the deterrence of conducting its own first strike. But so far, despite billions in expenditures, missile defense is more of a fantasy than a reality. Patriot missiles failed to knock down most missiles fired by enemies in the Saudi-Houthi conflict and the 1991 Gulf War. In fact, says arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis, there is no evidence that a Patriot “has ever intercepted a long-range ballistic missile in combat.”

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

The Iranian Horn May Not Be Responsible For The Iraq Attack

Iran condemns U.S. airstrikes in Syria and denies attacks in Iraq

Iran on Saturday condemned U.S. air strikes against Iran-backed militias in Syria, and denied responsibility for rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq that prompted Friday’s strikes.

Washington said its strikes on positions of the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah paramilitary group along the Iraq border were in response to the rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq.

Western officials and some Iraqi officials have blamed those attacks on Iran-backed groups.

However, Tehran has denied any involvement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday condemned the U.S. strikes as “illegal and a violation of Syria’s sovereignty” in a meeting with his visiting Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, Iran’s state media reported.

“Zarif said some recent attacks and incidents in Iraq are suspect, and could be designed to disrupt Iran-Iraq relations and Iraq’s security and stability,” the media reports said.

“We emphasize the need for the Iraqi government to find the perpetrators of these incidents,” Zarif was quoted as saying.

Hussein gave assurances that “Baghdad will not allow incidents in this country to be used to disrupt the excellent relations between the two countries”, state media reported.

Progress has been made in talks on Iran’s frozen funds and Baghdad would facilitate Tehran’s access to its funds, Hussein added. Some $6 billion in Iranian funds have been blocked in Iraq because of U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani, met Hussein earlier and said Friday’s U.S. air strikes encouraged terrorism in the region.

Hussein is in Iran “to discuss regional developments, including ways to balance relations and avoid tension and escalation” with Iranian officials, according to an Iraqi foreign ministry statement.

An Iraqi militia official close to Iran said the U.S. strikes killed one fighter and wounded four. U.S. officials said they were limited in scope to show President Joe Biden’s administration would act firmly while trying to avoid a big regional escalation.

Washington and Tehran are seeking maximum leverage in attempts to save Iran’s nuclear deal reached with world powers in 2015 but abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, after which regional tensions soared.

Iran is Nuclear Ready in 24 Hours: Daniel 8

Salehi: Iran Able to Increase Uranium Enrichment to 60% in 24 Hours

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi

Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said the Islamic Republic has the capacity to increase its uranium enrichment up to 60% in 24 hours.

Referring to recent remarks by Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Salehi said the law has allowed the Islamic Republic raise uranium enrichment to this percent.

“We halted the Additional Protocol implementation to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and restricted access to the country’s nuclear sites within the framework of a counteractive law approved by the Iranian Parliament”, said Salehi during a TV program.

The head of AEOI also called Parliament’s law, dubbed the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, as a golden opportunity, saying that were got the chance to launch 20% Uranium enrichment in 24 hours.

He went on to quote Imam Khamenei when he said that “Iran will not change its stance regarding its nuclear program, and that Tehran may initiate uranium enrichment up to 60% based on the domestic need of the country.”

“We have the capacity now, and as the law has allowed us, we can increase our Uranium enrichment up to 60% in 24 hours.”

Referring to a recent joint statement between the Iranian nuclear agency and the IAEA which had been agreed upon during a visit of the IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi to Tehran, Salehi said that Iran’s joint statement with the IAEA has no hidden aspect, and Grossi declared that IAEA recognizes Iran’s right to enforce the parliamentary law.

After the US exit from the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and imposing the unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian nation, followed by the indifference of the European parties to the need for compensating Iran’s losses as a result of the US violation of the international accord, Iran started reducing its JCPOA commitments in five steps and finally suspended voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol on Monday midnight.

Source: Iranian media

Religiosity Will Lead to the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Pakistan expert: Religiosity aiding spike in militancy

Posted: February 27, 2021 – 3:46 AM KATHY GANNON

Ishtiaq Mahsud / AP

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Militant attacks are on the rise in Pakistan amid a growing religiosity that has brought greater intolerance, prompting one expert to voice concern the country could be overwhelmed by religious extremism.

Pakistani authorities are embracing strengthening religious belief among the population to bring the country closer together. But it’s doing just the opposite, creating intolerance and opening up space for a creeping resurgence in militancy, said Mohammad Amir Rana, executive director of the independent Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

“Unfortunately, instead of helping to inculcate better ethics and integrity, this phenomenon is encouraging a tunnel vision” that encourages violence, intolerance and hate, he wrote recently in a local newspaper. “Religiosity has begun to define the Pakistani citizenry.”

Militant violence in Pakistan has spiked: In the past week alone, four vocational school instructors who advocated for women’s rights were traveling together when they were gunned down in a Pakistan border region. A Twitter death threat against Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai attracted an avalanche of trolls. They heaped abuse on the young champion of girls education, who survived a Pakistani Taliban bullet to the head. A couple of men on a motorcycle opened fire on a police check-post not far from the Afghan border killing a young police constable.

In recent weeks, at least a dozen military and paramilitary men have been killed in ambushes, attacks and operations against militant hideouts, mostly in the western border regions.

A military spokesman this week said the rising violence is a response to an aggressive military assault on militant hideouts in regions bordering Afghanistan and the reunification of splintered and deeply violent anti-Pakistan terrorist groups, led by the Tehreek-e-Taliban. The group is driven by a radical religious ideology that espouses violence to enforce its extreme views.

Gen. Babar Ifitkar said the reunified Pakistani Taliban have found a headquarters in eastern Afghanistan. He also accused hostile neighbor India of financing and outfitting a reunified Taliban, providing them with equipment like night vision goggles, improvised explosive devises and small weapons.

India and Pakistan routinely trade allegations that the other is using militants to undermine stability and security at home.

Security analyst and fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Asfandyar Mir, said the reunification of a splintered militancy is dangerous news for Pakistan.

“The reunification of various splinters into the (Tehreek-e-Taliban) central organization is a major development, which makes the group very dangerous,” said Mir.

The TTP claimed responsibility for the 2012 shooting of Yousafzai. Its former spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, who mysteriously escaped Pakistan military custody to flee to the country, tweeted a promise that the Taliban would kill her if she returned home.

Iftikar, in a briefing of foreign journalists this week, said Pakistani military personnel aided Ehsan’s escape, without elaborating. He said the soldiers involved had been punished and efforts were being made to return Ehsan to custody.

The government reached out to Twitter to shut down Ehsan’s account after he threatened Yousafzai, although the military and government at first suggested it was a fake account.

But Rana, the commentator, said the official silence that greeted the threatening tweet encouraged religious intolerance to echo in Pakistani society unchecked.

The problem is religiosity has very negative expression in Pakistan,” he said in an interview late Friday. “It hasn’t been utilized to promote the positive, inclusive tolerant religion.”

Instead, successive Pakistani governments as well as its security establishments have exploited extreme religious ideologies to garner votes, appease political religious groups, or target enemies, he said.

The 2018 general elections that brought cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan to power was mired in allegations of support from the powerful military for hard-line religious groups.

Those groups include the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, whose single-point agenda is maintaining and propagating the country’s deeply controversial blasphemy law. That law calls for the death penalty for anyone insulting Islam and is most often used to settle disputes. It often targets minorities, mostly Shiite Muslims, who makeup up about 15% of mostly Sunni Pakistan’s 220 million people.

Mir, the analyst, said the rise in militancy has benefited from state policies that have been either supportive or ambivalent toward militancy as well as from sustained exposure of the region to violence. Most notable are the protracted war in neighboring Afghanistan and the simmering tensions between hostile neighbors India and Pakistan, two countries that possess a nuclear weapons’ arsenal.

“More than extreme religious thought, the sustained exposure of the region to political violence, the power of militant organizations in the region, state policy which is either supportive or ambivalent towards various forms of militancy … and the influence of the politics of Afghanistan incubate militancy in the region,” he said.

Mir and Rana both pointed to the Pakistani government’s failure to draw radical thinkers away from militant organizations, as groups that seemed at least briefly to eschew a violent path have returned to violence and rejoined the TTP.

Iftikar said the military has stepped up assaults on the reunited Pakistani Taliban, pushing the militants to respond, but only targets they can manage, which are soft targets.

But Mir said the reunited militants pose a greater threat.

“With the addition of these powerful units, the TTP has major strength for operations across the former tribal areas, Swat, Baluchistan, and some in Punjab,” he said. “Taken together, they improve TTP’s ability to mount insurgent and mass-casualty attacks.”