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.

Eight wounded in ‘accidental’ explosion outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Eight wounded as ‘accidental’ explosion hits Gaza City

Eight wounded as ‘accidental’ explosion hits Gaza City


19 February, 2022

Eight people suffered minor injuries on Friday in an accidental explosion in Gaza City’s Al-Shijaiya neighbourhood, the Gazan health ministry said.

Eight people suffered minor injuries in the explosion [SOPA/Lightrocket via Getty]

Eight people were wounded on Friday in an explosion in Gaza City, local officials have said.

Gaza police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji said the accidental explosion took place in the Al-Turkman area of Al-Shijaiya neighbourhood, in the east of the city.

The explosion occurred after a fire broke out on a patch of agricultural land, al-Batniji said.

“Firefighting teams were able to quickly put out the fire and bring the situation under control,” he said.

He did provide any further details on the cause of the blast.

The eight people wounded in the explosion were taken to the city’s Al-Shifaa hospital for treatment, Gaza’s health ministry said in a press statement sent to The New Arab.

None of the injuries were severe, the ministry added.

Israeli PM: New Iran nuclear deal ‘weaker’ than Obama’s Deal

Israeli PM: New Iran nuclear deal ‘weaker’ than previous one

Israel’s prime minister says the emerging deal over Iran’s nuclear program is less stringent than the previous agreement


TIA GOLDENBERG Associated Press

February 20, 2022, 8:31 AM ET

Nuclear negotiations with Iran resumeMartha Raddatz reports from Tehran as the nation celebrates the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and negotiations over the country’s nuclear program restart. The Associated Press

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s prime minister said Sunday that the emerging deal over Iran’s nuclear program is less stringent than the previous agreement, which was left in tatters after the U.S., goaded by Israel, withdrew.

World powers have been negotiating in Vienna in a bid to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Israel vehemently opposed that accord and has urged negotiators to take a hard line against Iran in the current round of talks.

Iranian lawmakers, meanwhile, have urged Iran’s president to obtain guarantees from the U.S. and three European countries that they won’t withdraw from the deal after it is renegotiated.

The emerging new deal is shorter and weaker than the previous one,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told a meeting of his Cabinet.

He said the deal would see Iran rein in its nuclear activity for two and a half years, rather than the 10 years under the collapsed previous deal, granting Iran sanctions relief for only a brief slowdown of its nuclear activity. After that, he said, Iran could develop and install “stadiums of centrifuges.”

Bennett said that sanctions relief would free up cash Iran will use to fund its proxies along Israel’s borders.

“The state of Israel is in any case preparing and is ready for the day after, in every parameter, so that we can know how to protect Israeli civilians by ourselves,” he said.

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy. It strongly opposed the 2015 deal and has watched with trepidation as the current talks have carried on.

It says it wants an improved deal that places tighter restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and addresses Iran’s long-range missile program and its support for hostile proxies along Israel’s borders, like the Lebanese militant Hezbollah.

Israel also insisted that the negotiations must be accompanied by a “credible” military threat to ensure that Iran does not delay indefinitely.

Under the strong encouragement of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump withdrew from the original deal in 2018, causing it to unravel. Since then, Iran has stepped up its nuclear activities — amassing a stockpile of highly enriched uranium that goes well beyond the bounds of the accord.

Despite Israel’s support for Trump’s withdrawal, prominent voices in the country have said in retrospect that the move was a blunder.

In Iran, meanwhile, the Iranian parliament’s news agency, ICANA, reported that 250 lawmakers in a statement urged President Ebrahim Raisi and his negotiating team to obtain guarantees from the U.S. and the three other European counties that they won’t withdraw from the deal after it is renegotiated.

Iran’s hard-line dominated parliament has the power to approve or reject any proposed agreement between Iran and the other parties in Vienna.

The United States has participated in the current talks indirectly because of its withdrawal from the original deal. President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal.

Under Trump, the U.S. re-imposed heavy sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Tehran has responded by increasing the purity and amounts of uranium it enriches and stockpiles, in breach of the accord — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

Iran long has insisted its nuclear program is peaceful. But the country’s steps away from its obligations under the accord have alarmed its archenemy Israel and world powers.

Tehran has started enriching uranium up to 60% purity — a short technical step from the 90% needed to make an atomic bomb, and spinning far more advanced centrifuges than those permitted under the deal.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told participants at the annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday that the talks have come a long way over the past 10 months and “all elements for a conclusion of the negotiations are on the table.” But he also criticized Iran for stepping up its enrichment and restricting inspections by monitors from the U.N. nuclear agency.

Iran’s foreign minister said that it’s up to Western countries to show flexibility and “the ball is now in their court.”

Drills by the Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

A Ukrainian service member listens to artillery shots standing in a trench
Associated Press/Evgeniy Maloletka

Shelling in east Ukraine, Russia nuclear drill raise tension

By LORI HINNANT and JIM HEINTZ | Associated PressFebruary 20, 2022 – 07:01 AM EST

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Hundreds of artillery shells exploded along the contact line between Ukrainian soldiers and Russia-backed separatists, and thousands of people evacuated eastern Ukraine, further increasing fears Sunday that the volatile region could spark a Russian invasion.

Western leaders warned that Russia was poised to attack its neighbor, which is surrounded on three sides by about 150,000 Russian soldiers, warplanes and equipment. Russia held nuclear drills Saturday and conducted conventional exercises in neighboring Belarus, and has ongoing naval drills off the coast in the Black Sea.

The United States and many European countries have alleged for months that Russia is trying to create pretexts to invade. They have threatened massive, immediate sanctions if it does.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to choose a place where the two leaders could meet to try to resolve the crisis. Russia has denied plans to invade.

“Ukraine will continue to follow only the diplomatic path for the sake of a peaceful settlement,” Zelenskyy said Saturday at an international security conference in Munich, Germany. There was no immediate response from the Kremlin.

A top European Union official, Charles Michel, said Sunday that “the big question remains: does the Kremlin want dialogue?”

“We cannot forever offer an olive branch while Russia conducts missile tests and continues to amass troops,” Michel, the president of the European Council, said at the Munich Security Conference. He said, “One thing is certain: if there is further military aggression, we will react with massive sanctions.”

Separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine on Saturday ordered a full military mobilization and sent more civilians to Russia, which has issued about 700,000 passports to residents of the rebel-held territories. Claims that Russian citizens are being endangered might be used as justification for military action.

Officials in the separatist territories claimed Ukrainian forces launched several artillery attacks over the past day and that two civilians were killed in an unsuccessful assault on a village near the Russian border.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday emphasized the significance of the moment that Europe faces.

“We’re talking about the potential for war in Europe,” Harris said at the Munich Security Conference. “It’s been over 70 years, and through those 70 years … there has been peace and security.”

Ukraine’s leader criticized the U.S. and other Western nations for holding back on new sanctions for Russia. Zelenskyy, in comments before the conference, also questioned the West’s refusal to allow Ukraine to join NATO immediately.

Putin has demanded that NATO not take Ukraine as a member. Harris stood by the U.S. decision to hold off on sanctions but said she wouldn’t second guess Zelenskyy’s “desires for his country.”

In new signs of fears that a war could start within days, Germany and Austria told their citizens to leave Ukraine. German air carrier Lufthansa canceled flights to the capital, Kyiv, and to Odesa, a Black Sea port that could be a key target in an invasion.

NATO’s liaison office in Kyiv said it was relocating staff to Brussels and to the western Ukraine city of Lviv.

U.S. President Joe Biden said late Friday that based on the latest American intelligence, he was now “convinced” that Putin has decided to invade Ukraine in coming days and assault the capital.

A U.S. military official said an estimated 40% to 50% of those ground forces have moved into attack positions closer to the border. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal U.S. assessments, said the change has been underway for about a week and does not necessarily mean Putin has settled on an invasion.

Lines of communication between Moscow and the West remain open: the American and Russian defense chiefs spoke Friday. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Putin on Sunday. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to meet next week.

Immediate worries focused on eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting the pro-Russia rebels since 2014 in a conflict that has killed some 14,000 people.

Ukraine and the separatist leaders traded accusations of escalation. Russia on Saturday said at least two shells fired from a government-held part of eastern Ukraine landed across the border, but Ukraine’s foreign minister dismissed that claim as “a fake statement.”

Top Ukrainian military officials came under a shelling attack during a tour of the front of the nearly eight-year separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. The officials fled to a bomb shelter before hustling from the area, according to an Associated Press journalist who was on the tour.

The military on Sunday closed a key checkpoint leading to the separatist region after it came under repeated shelling.

Elsewhere on the front lines, Ukrainian soldiers said they were under orders not to return fire. Zahar Leshushun, peering into the distance with a periscope, had followed the news all day from a trench where he is posted near the town of Zolote.

“Right now, we don’t respond to their fire because …” the soldier started to explain before being interrupted by the sound of an incoming shell. “Oh! They are shooting at us now. They are aiming at the command post.”

Sporadic violence has broken out for years along the line separating Ukrainian forces from the Russia-backed separatists, but the spike seen in recent days is orders of magnitude higher than anything recently recorded by international monitors: nearly 1,500 explosions recorded in 24 hours.

Denis Pushilin, the head of the pro-Russia separatist government in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, cited an “immediate threat of aggression” from Ukrainian forces in his announcement of a call to arms. Ukrainian officials vehemently denied having plans to take rebel-controlled areas by force.

“I appeal to all the men in the republic who can hold weapons to defend their families, their children, wives, mothers,” Pushilin said. “Together we will achieve the coveted victory that we all need.”

A similar statement followed from his counterpart in the Luhansk region. On Friday, the rebels began evacuating civilians to Russia with an announcement that appeared to be part of their and Moscow’s efforts to paint Ukraine as the aggressor.

Metadata from two videos posted by the separatists announcing the evacuation of civilians to Russia show that the files were created two days ago, the AP confirmed. U.S. authorities have alleged that the Kremlin’s effort to come up with an invasion pretext could include staged, prerecorded videos.

Ukraine’s military said two of its soldiers died in firing from the separatist side on Saturday.

Authorities in Russia’s Rostov region, which borders eastern Ukraine, declared a state of emergency because of the influx of evacuees. Media reports on Saturday described chaos at some of the camps assigned to accommodate them.

Putin ordered the Russian government to offer 10,000 rubles (about $130) to each evacuee, an amount equivalent to about half of an average monthly salary in eastern Ukraine.

The separatist regions of Ukraine, like much of the country’s east, are majority Russian speaking. Putin on Tuesday repeated allegations of a “genocide” there in explaining the need to protect them.

One of the evacuees, a Donetsk resident who identified himself only as Vyacheslav, blamed Ukraine’s government for his plight.

“Let them calm down,” he said. “It’s our fault we don’t want to speak Ukrainian, is that it?”


Jim Heintz reported from Moscow. Mstyslav Chernov in Zolote, Ukraine, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Aamer Madhani in Munich, Robert Burns and Darlene Superville in Washington, Liudas Dapkus in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv contributed to this story.

Washington Must Prepare for War With Both the Russia and China Nuclear Horns

Putin Xi handshake

Washington Must Prepare for War With Both Russia and China

Pivoting to Asia and forgetting about Europe isn’t an option.

February 18, 2022, 2:18 PM

As Russia threatens the largest land invasion in Europe since World War II, the most consequential strategic question of the 21st century is becoming clear: How can the United States manage two revisionist, autocratic, nuclear-armed great powers (Russia and China) simultaneously? The answer, according to many politicians and defense experts, is that Washington must moderate its response to Russia in Europe to focus on the greater threat posed by China in the Indo-Pacific.

This would be a mistake.

The United States remains the world’s leading power with global interests, and it cannot afford to choose between Europe and the Indo-Pacific. Instead, Washington and its allies should develop a defense strategy capable of deterring and, if necessary, defeating Russia and China at the same time.

In recent weeks, Biden has sent several thousand U.S. troops to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank—and for good reason. A major war in Ukraine could spill across international boundaries and threaten the seven NATO allies that border Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Moreover, if Russian President Vladimir Putin succeeds in Ukraine, why would he stop there?

Putin has shown a clear interest in resurrecting the former Russian Empire, and other vulnerable Eastern European countries—Poland, Romania, or the Baltic states—might be next. A successful Russian incursion into a NATO ally’s territory could mean the end of the Western alliance and the credibility of U.S. security commitments globally.

The threat posed by China is also serious. Adm. Philip Davidson, former commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, predicted China could invade Taiwan within the next six years. This is a war the United States might lose. If China succeeds in taking Taiwan, it would be well on its way to disrupting the U.S.-led order in Asia, with an eye to doing the same globally.

Moreover, Russia and China are increasingly working together. As this month’s summitbetween Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shows, Moscow and Beijing are forging a closer strategic partnership, including on military matters. These dictators could coordinate dual attacks on the U.S. alliance structure or opportunistically seize on the distraction provided by the other’s aggression. In other words, there is a serious risk of simultaneous major-power wars in both Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

To address this problem, many have proposed answers that simply will not work. The Biden administration initially hoped to put relations with Russia on a “stable and predictable” footing to focus on China, but Putin had other ideas, as the world is now seeing in Ukraine. Unfortunately, Washington does not get to decide how its adversaries sequence their aggression.

Others have expressed hope that Washington can peel these powers apart or even align with Russia against China, but these are not realistic solutions.

The misguided view gaining the most recent acceptance, however, is that Washington should simply choose the Indo-Pacific over Europe. Politicians and experts argue that the United States lacks the resources to take on both Russia and China. They point to China’s power and Asia’s wealth and argue that Asia should be the priority. While Washington pivots to Asia, wealthy European countries, such as Germany, should step up to provide for NATO’s defense. Indeed, the Biden administration’s National Defense Strategy, which has been delayed due to the Ukraine crisis, is expected to focus on China without offering a clear solution to the two-front-war problem.

A good strategy starts with clear goals—and Washington’s objectives are to maintain peace and stability in both Europe and Asia.

A good strategy, however, starts with clear goals, and Washington’s objectives are to maintain peace and stability in both Europe and Asia. U.S. interests in Europe are too significant to let them be worked out solely between Putin and the United States’ European allies. Indeed, the European Union, not Asia, is the United States’ largest trade and investment partner, and this imbalance is much starker when China (which the United States seeks greater economic decoupling from), is removed from the equation.

Furthermore, China has conducted military exercises in Europe and the Middle East. Competing with China militarily means competing globally, not just in Asia. In addition, Xi is gauging U.S. resolve, and a weak response in Ukraine might make a Chinese move on Taiwan more likely.

Moreover, the United States is not France; it is not compelled to make gut-wrenching strategic choices about its national security due to constrained resources. In short, publishing a defense strategy that can only handle one of the United States’ great-power rivals (which is what is expected from the forthcoming national defense strategy) is planning to fail.

Instead, the United States and its allies must design a defense strategy capable of deterring and, if necessary, defeating both Russia and China in overlapping time frames. The pause in releasing Biden’s defense strategy provides an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and get this right.Read MoreIf Russia Invades Ukraine, Sanction ChinaChinese Support for a Russian Attack on Ukraine Cannot Be Cost-Free

To be sure, developing such a strategy will be challenging, but there are a number of ways to begin to square the circle.

First, Washington should increase defense spending. Contrary to those who claim that constrained resources will force tough choices, the United States can afford to outspend Russia and China at the same time. The United States possesses 24 percent of global GDP compared to a combined 19 percent in China and Russia. This year, the United States will spend $778 billion on defense compared to only $310 billion in Russia and China.

Moreover, the United States could go so far as to double defense spending (currently 2.8 percent of GDP) and still remain below its Cold War average (close to 7 percent of GDP). Indeed, given that this new Cold War is every bit as dangerous as the last one, a meaningful increase in defense spending, focused on the 21st century’s emerging defense technologies, is in order.

Some might argue that the days of a U.S. economic advantage are numbered due to China’s rise, but China’s internal dysfunctionsare catching up with it. Dictators like Xi prioritize political control over economic performance.

Xi is undermining China’s growth model by cracking down on the private sector and rolling back liberalizing reforms, and his aggressive diplomacy is upsetting international economic relationships. As a result, Beijing’s economy is stagnating. Russia’s long-term economic outlook is even worse. In short, even if this new strategic competition becomes a two-versus-one arms race, Washington is likely to prevail.

In addition, the United States can actively lead its allies in Europe and the Indo-Pacific to develop a free world defense strategy. The United States and its formal treaty allies possess nearly 60 percent of global GDP, and together, they can easily marshal the resources to maintain a favorable balance of military power over both China and Russia. Preexisting formal alliances like NATO in Europe and bilateral alliances in Asia can be supplemented with new arrangements, such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

European allies should invest in armor and artillery while Asian allies buy naval mines, harpoon missiles, and submarines.

Allies do need, therefore, to step up and do more for their defense, but they will not do it on their own if the United States threatens to leave Europe. Instead, Washington should actively lead, moving from a model where Washington provides defense to allies to one where Washington contributes to allies’ self-defense. This should include incorporating key allies into military planning, sharing responsibilities, and devising a rational division of labor for weapons acquisition.

European allies should invest in armor and artillery while Asian allies buy naval mines, harpoon missiles, and submarines. The U.S. Army should prioritize Europe while the U.S. Navy takes the Indo-Pacific and a larger U.S. Air Force plays a significant role in both theaters. In addition, the United States should provide strategic capabilities like its nuclear umbrella; global conventional strike capabilities, including hypersonic missiles; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Finally, if necessary, Washington could always take a page from its Cold War playbook and rely more heavily on nuclear weapons to offset the local, conventional advantages of its rivals. The presence of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe helped deter the massive Soviet Red Army for decades. Similarly, the United States could rely on threatening nonstrategic nuclear strikes to deter and, as a last resort, thwart a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan or a Russian tank incursion into Europe.

To be sure, there are risks associated with nuclear deterrence, but nuclear weapons have played a foundational role in U.S. defense strategy for three-quarters of a century—and will likely continue to do so for decades to come.

Deterring China and Russia at the same time will not be easy, but it is better than pretending Washington can deal with one major-power rival or the other at its convenience. Thank goodness, former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt did not choose victory in only one theater during World War II. Biden should follow his example and plan to defend U.S. interests in Europe and the Indo-Pacific at the same time.

This is what would happen to Earth if a nuclear war broke out between the West and Russia

Climate change is not the only Le man-made threat that could wipe out humanity; a nuclear war would also do that

Published February 19, 2022 10:00AM (EST)

Suddenly, the threat of nuclear war feels closer than it has in decades. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists updated their Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, and President Joe Biden has issued increasingly ominous statements reflecting how the looming conflict over the Ukraine that could ensnare both Russia and the west into conventional war.

And, some fear, war with nuclear weapons. It is a prospect that has haunted human beings since the dawn of the Cold War. Politicians who were perceived as too open to the idea of nuclear war would pay for their hawkishness at the polls. Motion pictures from “Dr. Strangelove” to “The Day After” have depicted an uninhabitable world, filled with lethal amounts of radiation and short on necessities like food and water. As our electrical infrastructure collapsed around us, people would resort to looting and other violent methods to survive. The seeming deterioration of civilization during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic would be nothing compared to the anarchy and destruction that would follow nuclear war.

Yet decades of living with nuclear weapons have produced a broad body of knowledge as to what a nuclear war might do to the planet, and to humanity. If even a “small” nuclear war were to break out, tens of millions of people would die after the initial blasts. A blanket of soot would wrap the rays of the Sun and cause a nuclear winter, destroying crops all over the planet and plunging billions into famine. In the northern hemisphere, there would be such severe ozone depletion from the nuclear smoke that organisms would suffer from increased exposure to damaging ultraviolet light. While things would not be as bad in the southern hemisphere, even well-positioned countries like Australia would face the ripple effects from a small nuclear war in the northern hemisphere by sheer virtue of its interconnectedness with the global community.

“The worst-case scenario is that US and Russian central strategic forces would be launched with the detonation of several thousand warheads,” Hans M. Kristensen, Director, Nuclear Information Project and Associate Senior Fellow to SIPRI, Federation of American Scientists, told Salon by email. “A large nuclear exchange would not only kill millions of people and contaminate wast areas with radioactive fallout but potentially also have longer-term climatic effects.”

Yet Kristensen said he does not believe the current Ukraine conflict is likely to become a nuclear war. He is not the only nuclear weapons expert who feels that way.

“First, there is little chance of that happening barring some massive miscalculation, accident or escalation of any conflict there,” Geoff Wilson, the political director of Council for a Livable World, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons from America’s arsenal, told Salon by email. Ukraine is not part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and, as such, the United States has not committed to use its military if Ukraine’s sovereignty is encroached. While American policymakers can provide material aid and punish Russia through sanctions, it is unlikely that they will risk open warfare.

That said, the world’s nuclear powers (which, in addition to the United States and Russia, also includes China, India, Israel, France, North Korea, Pakistan and the United Kingdom) still have vast arsenals at their disposal. In addition, President Donald Trump has overseen the development of new weapons like the W76-2 low-yield nuclear warheads. As such, the possibility of nuclear war always remains — not likely in this scenario, perhaps, but never entirely out of the question.

“The fact that the United States has started to develop these weapons again is crazy, and it sends a very poor message to the rest of the world when we have been pushing nations to end nuclear proliferation and reduce the size and scope of nuclear arsenals for so long,” Wilson explained. “What’s more, it sends a dangerous signal to our adversaries that we think that tactical nuclear weapons are important again, and will likely signal to them that they should follow suit.”

Like Kristensen, Wilson made it clear that if conventional war with nuclear weapons ever did break out, it would end disastrously.

“Researchers have estimated that a ‘regional nuclear war,’ say, a couple hundred low-yield weapons exchanged between India and Pakistan, could lead to the deaths of billions people worldwide, due to the effects on global food production,” Wilson explained. “So, yeah, it would not be good.”

Since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshoma in 1945, intellectuals from a number of disciplines have advocated for world government as an alternative to a possible nuclear holocaust. Andreas Bummel, co-founder and director of the international campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and of Democracy Without Borders, has made that argument as well, telling Salon that there are no national policies which can entirely eliminate the threat.

“The only way is institutional and structural by creating a workable international system of collective security which is not only based on total elimination of WMD but also radical conventional disarmament, setting up UN capacities for rapid intervention and democratic decision-making bodies and procedures,” Bummel explained by email. He added that it is “doubtful” whether this can happen in a meaningful way “while major nuclear powers are autocratic and one-party dictatorships.”

Kristensen offered some less sweeping alternatives.

“Arms control agreements to reduce the numbers and role of nuclear weapons,” Kristensen told Salon. “Crisis management agreements to reduce the chances for and risks of misunderstandings and overreactions. And changes in national policies so countries refrain from taking aggressive action. All of this requires political will to change.”

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

Fears of violence rise over east Jerusalem tensions: Revelation 11

Israel: Fears of violence rise over east Jerusalem tensions

‘We fear a flare-up in Sheikh Jarrah tomorrow after Friday prayers’

Israel’s security forces are bracing for more potential violence in east Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank on Friday after days of clashes between Jewish and Palestinian factions in the flashpoint neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

“We fear a flare-up in Sheikh Jarrah tomorrow after Friday prayers,” a source close to the matter informed Israel’s Kan broadcaster.

Tensions in the community soared after an alleged firebombing occurred at a home housing a Jewish family in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in east Jerusalem which is also known by the name Shimon HaTzadik.

The incident prompted Israel’s right-wing groups, including far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, to call for increased security in the neighborhood.

Earlier this week, police arrested two suspects in the firebombing case, and the move set off a series of clashes in Sheikh Jarrah.

On Thursday, Israel’s law enforcement officers arrested two more suspects in connection to the alleged arson attack.

Officials are concerned that the situation in Sheikh Jarrah – which inflamed Israeli-Palestinian tensions last year and sparked the 2021 conflict with Gaza – could escalate beyond the neighborhood and create additional violence across the region.

On aSunday, Hamas – the Palestinian militant group which rules the Gaza Strip – said that Israel is “playing with fire in Jerusalem” and warned of a “severe” response to violence in Sheikh Jarrah.