We really are due for the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

Opinion/Al Southwick: Could an earthquake really rock New England? We are 265 years overdue

On Nov. 8, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck Buzzard’s Bay off the coast of New Bedford. Reverberations were felt up to 100 miles away, across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of Connecticut and New York. News outlets scrambled to interview local residents who felt the ground shake their homes. Seismologists explained that New England earthquakes, while uncommon and usually minor, are by no means unheard of.

The last bad one we had took place on Nov. 18, 1755, a date long remembered.

It’s sometimes called the Boston Earthquake and sometimes the Cape Ann Earthquake. Its epicenter is thought to have been in the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles east of Gloucester. Estimates say that it would have registered between 6.0 and 6.3 on the modern Richter scale. It was an occasion to remember as chronicled by John E. Ebel, director of the Weston observatory of Boston College:

“At about 4:30 in the morning on 18 November, 1755, a strong earthquake rocked the New England area. Observers reported damage to chimneys, brick buildings and stone walls in coastal communities from Portland, Maine to south of Boston … Chimneys were also damaged as far away as Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut. The earthquake was felt at Halifax, Nova Scotia to the northeast, Lake Champlain to the northwest, and Winyah, South Carolina to the southwest. The crew of a ship in deep water about 70 leagues east of Boston thought it had run aground and only realized it had felt an earthquake after it arrived at Boston later that same day.

“The 1755 earthquake rocked Boston, with the shaking lasting more than a minute. According to contemporary reports, as many as 1,500 chimneys were shattered or thrown down in part, the gable ends of about 15 brick buildings were broken out, and some church steeples ended up tilted due to the shaking. Falling chimney bricks created holes in the roofs of some houses. Some streets, particularly those on manmade ground along the water, were so covered with bricks and debris that passage by horse-drawn carriage was impossible. Many homes lost china and glassware that was thrown from shelves and shattered. A distiller’s cistern filled with liquor broke apart and lost its contents.”

We don’t have many details of the earthquake’s impact here, there being no newspaper in Worcester County at that time. We do know that one man, Christian Angel, working in a “silver” mine in Sterling, was buried alive when the ground shook. He is the only known fatality in these parts. We can assume that, if the quake shook down chimneys in Springfield and New Haven, it did even more damage hereabouts. We can imagine the cries of alarm and the feeling of panic as trees swayed violently, fields and meadows trembled underfoot and pottery fell off shelves and crashed below.

The Boston Earthquake was an aftershock from the gigantic Lisbon Earthquake that had leveled Lisbon, Portugal, a few days before. That cataclysm, estimated as an 8 or 9 on the modern Richter scale, was the most devastating natural catastrophe to hit western Europe since Roman times. The first shock struck on Nov. 1, at about 9 in the morning.

According to one account: ”Suddenly the city began to shudder violently, its tall medieval spires waving like a cornfield in the breeze … In the ancient cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria, the nave rocked and the massive chandeliers began swinging crazily. . . . Then came a second, even more powerful shock. And with it, the ornate façade of every great building in the square … broke away and cascaded forward.”

Until that moment, Lisbon had been one of the leading cities in western Europe, right up there with London and Paris. With 250,000 people, it was a center of culture, financial activity and exploration. Within minutes it was reduced to smoky, dusty rubble punctuated by human groans and screams. An estimated 60,000 to 100,000 lost their lives.

Since then, New England has been mildly shaken by quakes from time to time. One series of tremors on March 1, 1925, was felt throughout Worcester County, from Fitchburg to Worcester, and caused a lot of speculation.

What if another quake like that in 1755 hit New England today? What would happen? That question was studied 15 years ago by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Its report is sobering:

“The occurrence of a Richter magnitude 6.25 earthquake off Cape Ann, Massachusetts … would cause damage in the range of 2 to 10 billion dollars … in the Boston metropolitan area (within Route 128) due to ground shaking, with significant additional losses due to secondary effects such as soil liquefaction failures, fires and economic interruptions. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of major and minor injuries would be expected … Thousands of people could be displaced from their homes … Additional damage may also be experienced outside the 128 area, especially closer to the earthquake epicenter.”

So even if we don’t worry much about volcanoes, we know that hurricanes and tornadoes are always possible. As for earthquakes, they may not happen in this century or even in this millennium, but it is sobering to think that if the tectonic plates under Boston and Gloucester shift again, we could see a repeat of 1755.

Babylon the Great Leaves Iraq

US agrees to redeploy remaining combat forces from Iraq

Updated 08 April 2021 Arab News April 07, 2021 20:00

LONDON: The US has agreed to redeploy remaining combat forces from Iraq after talks in Washington on Wednesday.

Any American troops left in the country will focus on training and advisory tasks, a joint statement from Iraq and the US said, adding the Iraqi military had made substantial progress.

The two countries “reaffirmed their mutual intention to continue bilateral security coordination and cooperation,” the statement said.

The announcement came after a US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue held on Wednesday chaired by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterpart Fuad Hussein.

The timing of the withdrawal would be decided in upcoming technical talks, the statement said.

“The transition of US and other international forces away from combat operations to training, equipping, and assisting the ISF reflects the success of their strategic partnership and ensures support to the ISF’s continued efforts to ensure Daesh (Daesh) can never again threaten Iraq’s stability,” it said.

The announcement comes as Shiite paramilitary factions linked to Iran continue to launch attacks on US forces stationed in the country almost on a daily basis. 

During the talks, Iraq reaffirmed its commitment to protect the personnel, convoys, and diplomatic facilities belonging to members of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh.

The discussions also covered security, counterterrorism, economics, energy and the environment.

Washington expressed its support for Iraq’s efforts to reform its power sector and “both countries affirmed their support for Iraq diversifying its sources of energy by building greater ties to its neighbors in Jordan and in the GCC, including by moving forward with electric grid interconnection projects.”

The two sides pledged to work closely together as Iraq commits to implementing reforms to diversify its economy, improve the business climate, and help create a more vibrant private sector, the statement added.

The two countries also discussed greater cooperation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the management of water resources.

The Threat of the Russian and Chinese Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

Russian and Chinese Nuclear Threats Pose Problem for U.S. Deterrence, Experts Say

John GradyApril 8, 2021 11:44 AM

Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine Vladimir Monomakh (SSBN). Russian Navy Photo

Russian and Chinese threats to use nuclear weapons in Europe or across the Taiwan Strait pose “stark real-world problems” in defining deterrence as the United States modernizes its strategic forces, security experts agreed Wednesday.

While the three panelists and keynoter speaker former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said modernizing all legs of the triad and the weapons systems was essential, Keith Payne, the chief executive officer of the National Institute for Public Policy, said “deterrence requirements can change, can change very quickly.” He added, “the outside world has a vote” on what’s needed for deterrence and “the outside world has changed dramatically” since 2010, when the Obama administration reevaluated the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [START] with Russia.

During a virtual Heritage Foundation and Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute event, Payne and the others noted the administration at the time committed itself to modernizing its land-based ballistic missile systems, strategic bomber force and the nation’s ballistic missile submarine fleet and the weapons themselves.

Rebeccah Heinrichs of the Hudson Institute said “baked in” to American military planning is the belief that “our nuclear deterrence will hold.” The “nuclear umbrella” also is key to holding the nation’s alliances together, panelists said.

In the next decade, “the Russians have lowered the threshold in which they might employ a nuclear weapon” in a dispute with another nation, Heinrichs said.

Adding in China, which is expected to at least double its nuclear weapons stockpile in a decade, as well as North Korea and possibly Iran, Payne said,”the threat context is becoming more and more challenging.” The threat includes mobile intermediate-range cruise missiles to sophisticated air defense systems and dual-use, supposedly simple weapons like mines.

Heinrichs put the Russian advantage over the United States in tactical nuclear weapons at 10 to 1. Kyl said the Russians have achieved more than 85 percent of the nuclear platform and weapons system modernization, and China could be aiming to triple its nuclear stockpile to 600 weapons in the next few years.

Moscow and Beijing are ignoring the Cold War “balance of terror” argument – that any nuclear exchange would be suicidal – when they ratchet up the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons. Russia calls the policy “escalate to de-escalate.”

“The way the conflict is de-escalated is because the West stood down,” Kyl added.

Payne said the question now and into the foreseeable future is “what nuclear risks are they willing to accept” in those regional crises.

Matthew Kroenig, of the Scowcroft Center at the Atlantic Council, said “China arguably has a [nuclear] threat advantage over the U.S.” in the Indo-Pacific.

Since Beijing is not constrained by the START Treaty or by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces [INF] treaty, China “may be in a sprint to nuclear parity” with the U.S. in the region. He added he could envision a scenario in which a Chinese attempt to take over Taiwan goes badly and Beijing then threatens to use tactical nuclear weapons against the island.

Russia has done ‘escalate to de-escalate,’ China could do that,” despite its avowed “no first-used policy” regarding nuclear weapons.

Kroenig said the Trump administration adjusted to some of the new challenges by pulling out of the INF, beginning work on missiles with intermediate range and also proposing the development of nuclear-capable sea-launched cruise missiles.

In his opening remarks, Kyl said, “we brought the problem on ourselves” of having to pay for modernized platforms and weapons systems at the same time. By not investing continuously after 2010 in the platforms, Washington now finds “both bills are coming due at the same time.”

With questions being raised about the value of modernizing land-based ballistic missiles, “we do not have the consensus we had back in 2010,” he said.

China and Russia are both relying on a triad” in their strategic planning. Kyl said the spending commitment of two to three percent above the rate of inflation would need to run for 10 to 15 years. Reports this week predict that the U.S. defense budget will be flat at $704 to 708 billion.

Service officials have forecast flat or declining budgets in the coming years and emphasized a need to prioritize modernization over legacy platforms. Politico and Bloomberg reported that the topline for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget – which has yet to be released – will be between $704 and $708 billion.

Iran Horn Already Nuclear Ready: Daniel

Iran has produced 55 kg of 20% enriched uranium since January – official

(Reinstates dropped word ‘than’ in first para)

DUBAI (Reuters) –Iran has made 55 kg of uranium enriched to up to 20% – the point at which it is highly enriched – indicating quicker production than the 10 kg a month rate required by an Iranian law that created the process in January, Iranian authorities said on Wednesday.

The disclosure comes a day after Tehran and Washington held what they described as “constructive” indirect talks in Vienna on Tuesday aimed at finding ways to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Iran’s hardline parliament passed a law last year that obliges the government to harden its nuclear stance, partly in reaction to former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018.

Trump’s withdrawal prompted Iran to steadily overstep the accord’s limits on its nuclear programme designed to make it harder to develop an atomic bomb – an ambition Tehran denies.

The law required Iran to start enriching to 20% and stipulated that at least 120 kg (265 pounds) of uranium refined to that level be made each year, which amounts to 10 kg a month.

Iran’s production rate is already “up to 40%” faster than that, Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi indicated.

“In less than four months we have produced 55 kg of 20% enriched uranium … in around eight months we can reach 120 kg,” Kamalvandi told state TV.

Uranium is considered highly enriched as of 20%. Enriching to 20% is a big step towards enriching to weapons-grade.

A quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear activities by the U.N. nuclear watchdog in February said that as of Feb. 16, Iran had produced 17.6 kg of uranium enriched up to 20%, with the next level down being enriched between 2%-5%.

A senior diplomat said at the time that Iran was producing uranium enriched to 20% at a rate of 15 kg per month.

As part of a recent acceleration of its breaches of the nuclear deal, in January Iran began enriching uranium to 20% at Fordow, an underground uranium enrichment site that was built in secret inside a mountain possibly to withstand any aerial bombardment.

Under the deal, Tehran is not allowed to enrich uranium at Fordow at all.

Until January, Iran had not enriched beyond 4.5% purity – above the deal’s limit of 3.67% but still far below the 20% it achieved before the deal, or the 90% that is weapons-grade.

(Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna; Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by William Maclean)

Israel detains Hamas leaders outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel detains Hamas official in West Bank, dozens more Palestinians

February 3, 2021

Hamas leaders Essam Aldalis (L) Rawhi Mushtaha (C) Khalil Al-Hayya (R) walk outside the VIP hall at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on March 15, 2021 [SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images]

April 7, 2021 at 12:47 pm

Israeli occupation forces last night detained several Palestinian citizens, including a senior Hamas official and his son, in the occupied West Bank.

According to local sources, Hamas official Sheikh Jihad Nawahdeh and his son Osaid were taken from their home after it was ransacked in Al-Yamun town, west of occupied Jenin.

Jamal Yaseen, from Anin village in Jenin, was also assaulted by occupation forces upon his return from work in Israel, with soldiers returning at dawn to ransack his home.

Another young man identified as Fuaad Abul-Rab was taken prisoner during a raid on his home in Jalbun town, east of Jenin.

In Hebron, four citizens, including teenagers, were detained, while occupation forces raided other homes in the area.

In Ramallah, seven Palestinians were taken from their homes in Ras Karkar village.

The Director of Al-Raheem (Down Syndrome Friends) Association Haider Abu Makho was also taken from his home in Deir Jarir village, northeast of Ramallah.

How India is Countering the Pakistani Nuclear Horn

How Is India Countering The Growing Fleet Of French & Chinese Origin Submarines With The Pakistan Navy?

April 7, 2021

India is set to approve the indigenous construction of three nuclear-powered attack submarines to counter the Chinese PLA’s rapid expansion in the Indian Ocean.

This will be followed by the approval for another three such submarines at a later stage, The Times of India reported.

The daily reported that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is finally considering approving the project “within few months” as the Navy pushes for the capability enhancement in the IOR.

The Indian Navy had last month expressed the urgent need for inducting six nuclear-powered submarines, which it said should take priority over a third heavy aircraft carrier.

With China having developed the capacity to produce 12,000-ton Renhai class destroyers in just five years, the Indian Navy is pushing for its own undersea assets in the IOR.

On the other hand, Pakistan is also massively growing its submarine fleet, and the upcoming induction of eight Chinese-designed Type-039B Yuan Class boats would give Pakistan Navy a decisive advantage at the sea.

Pakistan operates five French-designed Agosta-class submarines. The country is also upgrading many of its submarines with Turkish assistance.

The Indian submarine project involves the construction of six 6,000-ton nuclear-powered attack submarines (or SSNs), at the Vizag ship-building center. For now, the CCS will only be approving three indigenous SSNs, which are expected to be inducted by 2032.

The nuclear-powered submarines offer the advantage of stealth with their ability to remain submerged underwater for months, which means they can patrol the whole Indo-Pacific without having to come to the surface and be vulnerable to detection.

Unlike SSBNs which are armed with nuclear ballistic missiles, these underwater vehicles are not strategic assets and serve the role of attack submarines to hunt rival subs and ships. The presence of long-range cruise missiles onboard SSNs also gives them the ability to strike land targets.

India partially completed its nuclear triad in late 2018 when its first SSBN INS Arihant successfully conducted a deterrence patrol and was operationalized.

The country’s second SSBN is expected to be commissioned by the end of this year, giving a credible deterrence boost to the country.

China is also ramping up its submarine fleet and already has nearly a dozen SSNs in operation. The newly-inducted Type 095 attack submarine in the PLA Navy comes with a reduced acoustic signature enabling the submarine to go undetected underwater.

With just one SSN, INS Chakra, currently in operation, India will need to significantly push for more capabilities in the Indian ocean. The country signed a $3-billion deal with Russia in March 2019 to eventually replace the Akula-class submarine with a more advanced SSN.

The Indian Navy has been lobbying for more SSNs to be produced domestically to complement the existing naval capability in the IOR.

India will need major capability enhancement to match that of China’s which is considered the world’s largest navy, possessing over 350 warships, including 50 conventional and 10 nuclear submarines.

The Chinese Navy is expected to grow to a formidable force of 450 ships and 110 submarines by 2030. India will have to significantly ramp up its naval assets to compete with its rising adversary in the future.