Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sixth Seal Hazard: New York City (Rev 6:12)

EARTHQUAKE HAZARD

 (Source: US Geological Survey)
NY hazard
New York State Geological Survey

Damaging earthquakes have occurred in New York and surely will again. The likelihood of a damaging earthquake in New York is small overall but the possibility is higher in the northern part of the state and in the New York City region. Significant earthquakes, both located in Rockaway and larger than magnitude 5, shook New York City in 1737 and 1884. The quakes were 147 years apart and the most recent was 122 year ago. It is likely that another earthquake of the same size will occur in that area in the next 25 to 50 years. A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in New York City would probably not cause great loss of life. However the damage to infrastructure – buildings, steam and gas lines, water mains, electric and fiber optic cable – could be extensive.

Earthquake Hazard Map of New York State

Acceleration of the ground during an earthquake is more important than total movement in causing structural damage. This map shows the two-percent probability of the occurrence of an earthquake that exceeds the acceleration of earth’s gravity by a certain percentage in the next fifty years.
If a person stands on a rug and the rug pulled slowly, the person will maintain balance and will not fall. But if the rug is jerked quickly, the person will topple. The same principle is true for building damage during an earthquake. Structural damage is caused more by the acceleration of the ground than by the distance the ground moves.

Earthquake hazard maps show the probability that the ground will move at a certain rate, measured as a percentage of earth’s gravity, during a particular time. Motion of one or two percent of gravity will rattle windows, doors, and dishes. Acceleration of ten to twenty percent of gravity will cause structural damage to buildings. It takes more than one hundred percent of gravity to throw objects into the air.

North Korea Preparing For Next Nuke (Dan 7)


North Korea digging tunnel at nuclear test site, possibly for future test: report
Reuters
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea is digging a new tunnel at its nuclear test site with an eye to conducting more tests of atomic devices in the future, a South Korean news report said on Friday, two days before the leaders of the South, Japan and China meet in Seoul.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter also makes a separate visit on Sunday to discuss response to the North’s missile and nuclear threat with South Korean defense officials.
The site is on North Korea’s east coast where three previous nuclear tests were conducted, and there’s an active movement of workers and vehicles working on a new tunnel, Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed government source as saying.
“The fact that they are constructing a new tunnel indicates the intention is to conduct a nuclear test at some point,” the source was quoted as saying. There was no evidence to conclude the preparation was for an imminent test, the source added.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee declined to confirm the report but said the country and the United States are closely watching for any nuclear activity by the North.
The report comes as the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China are scheduled to meet in Seoul on Sunday where reigning in the North’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is likely to be discussed.
North Korea has been steadily working on its nuclear program, but a fourth nuclear test was not see as imminent, particularly after it agreed with South Korea in August to work toward easing tensions on the peninsula and improve ties.
The North has conducted three nuclear tests, the last in 2013, drawing international condemnation including from China, its main diplomatic ally, and is under U.N. sanctions that ban trade that can fund its arms programs.

Truth Of The Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)



Former Iranian President Rafsanjani Admits Iran Has Always Sought To Build Nuclear Weapon


The interview with Rafsanjani was conducted in Farsi and was translated and distributed by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a dissident group in Iran.

Yochanan Visser

During an interview with the Iran Republic News Agency (IRNA), former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani admitted that Iran has sought to obtain nuclear weapons ever since it launched its covert nuclear program.

The interview with Rafsanjani was conducted in Farsi and was translated and distributed by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a dissident group in Iran.

The former Iranian president told IRNA that the decision to build a nuclear bomb was related to the war with Iraq in the 1980s and Saddam Hussein’s covert nuclear program.

“At the time that we started, we were at war, and we were looking to have this capability (a nuclear weapon) for the day that our enemy would want to resort to the nuclear bomb,” Rafsanjani reportedly told IRNA.

“Those years, we were all thinking that we should arm ourselves with deterrent elements since the war was not about to end and in our defensive policies we had the word of Imam (Ayatollah Khomeini) in mind that the war may last 20 years.

“Our basic doctrine was peaceful usage of the nuclear technology although we never abandoned the idea that if one day we are threatened and it is imperative, we would have the capability for going the other path (to a nuclear weapon) as well,” Rafsanjani added.

Rafsanjani also told IRNA that both he and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continued the project to acquire a nuclear bomb. The former Iranian president admitted that the Iranian nuclear program had covert elements such as secret nuclear facilities, uranium enrichment facilities, the construction of a heavy water reactor and centrifuge development.

Rafsanjani’s admission is consistent with what Israeli intelligence services always have said about Iran’s nuclear program: Khamenei ordered the production of nuclear weapons in 1987.

Israeli Iran expert Ronen Bergman wrote in his book, The Secret War with Iran:

During a secret meeting of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran that year, Khamenei said the following: “Our nation has always been subject to external threats. The little we can do to stand up to this danger is to make our enemies aware that we can defend ourselves. Accordingly, any step that we take here will serve the defense of our nation and your revolution. With this aim in mind, you must work hard and fast.”

Khamenei Plays With Obama (Daniel 8:4)


 
How Khamenei exploits Obama through the nuclear deal

Friday, 30 October 2015
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has masterfully sniffed out the weaknesses of President Obama and his administration, and the revelation of his new conditions on the nuclear deal suggests that Khamenei is ready to milk the administration more and obtain more concessions.

A flimsy deal has been signed by six world powers and Iran. Two prominent institutions, the U.S. congress and the Islamic Republic’s parliament (Majlis) ratified the deal as well.

Khamenei is now fully invested in his political game of playing with President Obama.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Hence, one would imagine that the agreement is considered to be a 100 percent done-deal. Also, one would assume that Khamenei would now back away after the Majlis ratified the deal under his indirect order and after being assured that his power grip is no longer threatened by Western economic sanctions.

Khamenei’s New and Post-Nuclear Deal Conditions

According to a new guideline sent to the President Rowhani and posted on Khamenei’s website, the Supreme Leader is demanding the United States and other European countries guarantee and provide “solid and sufficient” proof that all economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic are lifted before Iran fulfills its part and complies with the terms of the nuclear agreement.

Therefore, all the months which were spent deliberating over Iran’s nuclear program and the actual signing of it have apparently amounted to a joke. The Supreme Leader’s new condition of lifting sanctions before Tehran’s compliance to the terms seemingly violates the deal that was reached.
An additional condition that the Supreme Leader presented is to rule out any “snap-back”
option with regards to the sanctions. First he wants sanctions to be lifted at the outset, then he wants to make sure that the international community will not have any mechanism through which it can re-impose sanctions in the very likely scenario that Iran decides to pull out of the nuclear agreement and go full speed ahead on uranium enrichment.

But wait, that’s not all, there is another condition to be met as well. After Khamenei had his president and nuclear team add the condition of the removal of an arms embargo to the nuclear agreement in the eleventh hour, he is now adding the removal of all sanctions (including the ones linked to Iran’s terrorism and human rights violations) to the already-done nuclear deal.

The intriguing aspect of this power struggle is that on the one hand, Iran did not allow the West to bring any issues to the negotiating table other than Iran’s nuclear program– not even Tehran’s ballistic program. But on the other hand, Iranian leaders obtained numerous concessions which were not related to the nuclear program; lifting the arms embargo, lifting sanctions related to terrorism and human rights abuses, lifting sanctions against military leaders, as well as many more items.
Since the nuclear agreement appears to be a flimsy throw-away deal, Khamenei’s confidence has been bolstered and he will continue to exploit the United States and play with the Obama administration’s weakness. That is why after the deal, Iran tested its ballistic missiles in “clear violation” of the U.N. Security Council resolution.

Khamenei positions himself above the law

Khamenei is positioning himself in a very comfortable area; he demonstrates that he is above the law when it comes to any matter including the nuclear deal. This allows him to enact new rules and breach or bypass existing ones at his will.

As I mentioned few months ago, Khamenei was not going to approve or disapprove of the nuclear deal publicly for two major reasons. First of all, he does not desire to hold responsibility or accountability for the outcome of the deal. Secondly, he would like to have the luxury of pulling out of the deal at any time he wishes for any reason that he deems worthy (preferably after economic sanctions are fully lifted).

But there is another reason that he remained neutral as Khamenei was aiming to obtain additional concessions after the nuclear deal was signed and after President Rowhani and his nuclear team had already secured numerous concessions during the nuclear talks.

When it comes to detecting the weakness of other countries and their leaders, Khamenei can be characterized as one of the shrewdest politicians in the region. After all, he has reigned as Iran’s Supreme Leader since 1980, which makes him the second-longest serving autocrat in the Middle East.

Khamenei is now fully invested in his political game of playing with President Obama. Other European members of the United Nations Security Council (Britain and France) plus Germany followed in the footsteps of the Obama administration in the nuclear talks and also gave concessions to Tehran.

Khamenei knows that Obama is in a position of surrender, and the president will have no other option than to continue giving in to the Supreme Leader’s demands or intentionally refuse to address the real issues until he leaves the White House and delegates the problematic deal to the next U.S. president. This will ultimately complicate the prospect of a true nuclear deal.
______________
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American scholar, author and U.S. foreign policy specialist. Rafizadeh is the president of the International American Council. He serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University and Harvard International Relations Council. He is a member of the Gulf 2000 Project at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs. Previously he served as ambassador to the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC. He can be contacted at: Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu, or on Twitter: @MajidRafizadeh

Friday, October 30, 2015

The New Nuclear War (Revelation 15:2)


shutterstock_257858474-1

Pakistan may deploy low yield nuclear weapons

The Moderate Voice

In an extraordinary first, a top Pakistani official has said his country will use tactical nuclear weapons as a routine defensive measure against a conventional military attack by the Indian army.

This portends new headaches for President Barack Obama’s difficult relationship with Islamabad, which is already fraught with deep suspicions about the Pakistani army’s use for terrorists as proxies in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

“Pakistan has built an infrastructure near border areas to launch a quickest response to Indian aggression… Usage of such low-yield nuclear weapons would make it difficult for India to launch a war against Pakistan,” top foreign ministry official Aizaz Chaudhury said.

He spoke to media in Pakistan on October 22, the day that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met President Obama at the White House.

The infrastructure Chaudhury referred to involves small missiles with a 40-mile range launched from heavy trucks. They are equipped with low yield nuclear warheads capable of explosions much larger than any conventional bomb but unlikely to spread nuclear radiation over hundreds of miles.

This is sinister because stocks of such missiles and small warheads will be hard to protect. The current chaos inside Pakistan is deep enough for outsiders to believe that extremist Islamic terrorists might succeed in bribing their way to obtaining a few or simply stealing them.

Saudi Arabia is a major bankroller and religious mentor for high-level military and political operatives in Pakistani. The Saudis would certainly want some of those weapons without Washington’s knowledge. Iran will not sit on its hands if Pakistan does become a supplier.
Worse, India and China would develop similar nuclear weapons if they do not already have them. Delhi may assert a similar tactical first strike doctrine to match Islamabad. China would not be far behind.

This would lead to a new kind of proliferation of nuclear weapons without having to build them indigenously. The headache for Obama and subsequent American presidents is obvious. It would also open windows for Iran to buy such weapons covertly to deter Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies.
India has often threatened but never deployed a conventional attack strategy described by military planners as “cold start”. It would be used to respond to terrorist attacks in India aided by the Pakistani military, which, according to US intelligence findings, regularly provides planning and training for such cross border attacks.

The Indo-Pak border in Kashmir is an informal delineation called the Line of Control. Making it a permanent frontier is a major disagreement in on-off peace negotiations between Islamabad and Delhi.

Fears have increased in Pakistan that India will temporarily occupy small territories just across the border to increase the costs for Islamabad of proxy terrorism. It would use a cold start doctrine, which involves land, air and cyber warfare to conduct lightning strikes to occupy small territories quickly.
The tactical nuclear weapons would deter such strikes and certainly stop their advance effectively.
Pakistan now has the distinction of being the first to threaten use of nuclear warheads to halt conventional attacks, instead of turning to nuclear missiles only as a last resort to avoid a final defeat.
In military jargon, this change is one from “minimum credible deterrence” to “full spectrum deterrence.” It raises serious issues for the already fraught US-Pakistan relationship.

After the Obama-Sharif talks, a White House statement said, “The two leaders expressed their conviction that a resilient U.S.-Pakistan partnership is vital to regional and global peace and security and reaffirmed their commitment to address evolving threats in South Asia.”

This seems sanguine if the Pakistani military, which operates outside civilian control, has decided to change its nuclear deterrence doctrine. Chaudhury’s assertion suggests that the Sharif government either agrees with the military on this threat of nuclear warfare or has no say.

The US pays nearly $500 million a year to the Pakistan military for help in fighting terrorists using Pakistani safe havens to conduct attacks in Afghanistan. It has given over $20 billion over the past 14 years, which the military spends with no oversight from the civilian government in Islamabad or the Pentagon. Thus, it is a major financier of the Pakistan military’s programs.

Several senior analysts, including Bruce Riedel an author of the Obama administration’s Afghan-Pakistan policy, suggest that the military aid should be halted if the military does not stop supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. That is unlikely.

Analyses published earlier this week suggest that Pakistan’s nuclear warheads could rise to 250 in 10 years from 130 currently. The yet uncounted tactical low yield nuclear weapons mentioned by Chaudhury must be added to those.

Washington’s intense focus on the wars in Syria and Iraq has pushed the likelihood of much more devastating nuclear war between Pakistan and India to the far backburner.

That is imprudent because a major terrorist strike inside India is all it might take the next time, especially if it is traced to Pakistani military planning.

Facing The Russian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)


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Meeting Russia’s new nuclear challenge

By Dov S. Zakheim – – Thursday, October 29, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Even as the Obama administration continues to ponder just how it might respond to the turn of events in Syria in light of Russia’s ongoing intervention there, it has studiously avoided addressing a second, far more significant challenge that Russia is posing to the West, that of its nuclear weapons posture. Concurrent with Russia’s invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Moscow has increased the number of its strategic nuclear exercises, dispatched Bear bombers to test NATO defenses, and expanded its conventional force exercises, which incorporate escalation to the use tactical nuclear weapons. In addition, Russian officials, from President Putin on down, have engaged in overheated nuclear rhetoric, including the assertion by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Moscow has the right to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea.

Moscow formally adheres to the 2010 New START treaty, which reduces strategic nuclear launchers by 50 percent, and imposes lower sublimits on launchers, bombers and missiles. Yet the State Department has recently acknowledged that Russia is currently about one hundred warheads above New START levels. Moreover, Russia is modernizing its strategic nuclear forces far more quickly than the United States, whose efforts in this regard will not bear fruit until after the end of the current decade.

More ominous still is Moscow’s increasingly blatant disregard of the 1987 INF (intermediate nuclear forces) Treaty. Last year, and again reportedly last month, Russia tested a ground launched cruise missile in violation of the treaty. Reports also abound that Russia may be moving nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. It is noteworthy that, as former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates latterly testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in 2007 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov approached him about entirely doing away with the treaty. Gates rebuffed the Russian’s request, but Moscow’s recent behavior indicates that it has unilaterally chosen to ignore the treaty.

Moscow’s defenders argue that the threat is overblown; that NATO has been provocative by expanding to include Russia’s immediate neighbors; that it can deploy nuclear weapons to Crimea because it considers the peninsula to be an integral part of its territory. These apologists also contend that Russia’s apparent violations of the INF Treaty are no worse that the deployment and development of long-range drones and missile interceptors that, in its view also constitute treaty violations. Finally, Russia continues to argue that the United States withdraw its anti-ballistic missile capabilities from Europe, even though these have been significantly scaled back from the original Bush administration plan for a “Third Site” in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Moscow’s explanations notwithstanding, its military exercises and deployments, its publicly stated nuclear policies, no doubt buttressed by classified plans, and not least, its rhetoric, should be a major cause of American and NATO concern. In this regard, the Obama administration, while prepared to call out bad Russian behavior, and after years of delay, finally agreeing to support nuclear weapons and delivery systems modernization, has yet to take a firm stand against Moscow’s threatening language and behavior. No doubt it has seen the wisdom of avoiding to draw any more “red lines” like those in Syria that Russia might cross even more easily than has Bashar Assad. Yet at the same time, its silence in the face of a clearly more aggressive Russian political exploitation of its strategic and tactical nuclear prowess serves only to encourage Moscow to push even further against the bounds of NATO’s resolve.

The passive, head-in-the-sand attitude that has characterized so much of the administration’s foreign policy simply cannot be applied to Russo-American nuclear relations. Just as it pushed hard to negotiate New Start and then obtain Senate ratification, the administration should undertake a major effort to respond to Moscow’s nuclear diplomacy. Such an effort should be multipronged. The administration should forge ahead with modernizing both its tactical and strategic weapons and launch systems, and, in particular, fully fund and proceed apace with the Navy’s successor to the Trident submarine and the Air Force’s successor to the B-2 bomber. Moreover, the Pentagon should at least study options for dealing with possible Russian tactical nuclear strikes.

At the same time, Washington should open a new dialogue with Moscow, perhaps building on the modest agreement that the two countries recently reached regarding deconfliction over Syrian airspace. Such a new dialogue would not be another “reset,” in that it would be accompanied by a clear and credible determination to confront Moscow with a new more capable deterrent and with plans to use it, if necessary. Nevertheless, such a dialogue could help cool the increasingly tense relationship between the two countries and exploit the common ground that they share across an array of issues. These issues include fear of the Islamic State and radical Islam, the need for stability in the Middle East and the maintenance of the all-too-fragile nuclear non-proliferation regime. Most importantly, a dialogue should focus and underscore the recognition that both countries still share, that it remains in their common interest to ensue that what once was called “the delicate balance of terror” remains as stable as it has ever been.

• Dov S. Zakheim was undersecretary of defense in the first George W. Bush administration and is vice chairman of the Center for the National Interest.

Conclusion to Economic Consequences of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:15)

Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States: Conclusions

NYCEM.org
New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation
New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation

The current efforts in the eastern U.S., including New York City, to start the enforcement of seismic building codes for new constructions are important first steps in the right direction. Similarly, the emerging efforts to include seismic rehabilitation strategies in the generally needed overhaul of the cities’ aged infrastructures such as bridges, water, sewer, power and transportation is commendable and needs to be pursued with diligence and persistence. But at the current pace of new construction replacing older buildings and lifelines, it will take many decades or a century before a major fraction of the stock of built assets will become seismically more resilient than the current inventory is. For some time, this leaves society exposed to very high seismic risks. The only consolation is that seismicity on average is low, and, hence with some luck, the earthquakes will not outpace any ongoing efforts to make eastern cities more earthquake resilient gradually. Nevertheless, M = 5 to M = 6 earthquakes at distances of tens of km must be considered a credible risk at almost any time for cities like Boston, New York or Philadelphia. M = 7 events, while possible, are much less likely; and in many respects, even if building codes will have affected the resilience of a future improved building stock, M = 7 events would cause virtually unmanageable situations. Given these bleak prospects, it will be necessary to focus on crucial elements such as maintaining access to cities by strengthening critical bridges, improving the structural and nonstructural performance of hospitals, and having a nationally supported plan how to assist a devastated region in case of a truly severe earthquake. No realistic and coordinated planning of this sort exists at this time for most eastern cities.

The current efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) via the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to provide a standard methodology (RMS, 1994) and planning tools for making systematic, computerized loss estimates for annualized probabilistic calculations as well as for individual scenario events, is commendable. But these new tools provide only a shell with little regional data content. What is needed are the detailed data bases on inventory of buildings and lifelines with their locally specific seismic fragility properties. Similar data are needed for hospitals, shelters, firehouses, police stations and other emergency service providers. Moreover, the soil and rock conditions which control the shaking and soil liquefaction properties for any given event, need to be systematically compiled into Geographical Information System (GIS) data bases so they can be combined with the inventory of built assets for quantitative loss and impact estimates. Even under the best of conceivable funding conditions, it will take years before such data bases can be established so they will be sufficiently reliable and detailed to perform realistic and credible loss scenarios. Without such planning tools, society will remain in the dark as to what it may encounter from a future major eastern earthquake. Given these uncertainties, and despite them, both the public and private sector must develop at least some basic concepts for contingency plans. For instance, the New York City financial service industry, from banks to the stock and bond markets and beyond, ought to consider operational contingency planning, first in terms of strengthening their operational facilities, but also for temporary backup operations until operations in the designated facilities can return to some measure of normalcy. The Federal Reserve in its oversight function for this industry needs to take a hard look at this situation.

A society, whose economy depends increasingly so crucially on rapid exchange of vast quantities of information must become concerned with strengthening its communication facilities together with the facilities into which the information is channeled. In principle, the availability of satellite communication (especially if self-powered) with direct up and down links, provides here an opportunity that is potentially a great advantage over distributed buried networks. Distributed networks for transportation, power, gas, water, sewer and cabled communication will be expensive to harden (or restore after an event).

In all future instances of major capital spending on buildings and urban infrastructures, the incorporation of seismically resilient design principles at all stages of realization will be the most effective way to reduce society’s exposure to high seismic risks. To achieve this, all levels of government need to utilize legislative and regulatory options; insurance industries need to build economic incentives for seismic safety features into their insurance policy offerings; and the private sector, through trade and professional organizations’ planning efforts, needs to develop a healthy self-protective stand. Also, the insurance industry needs to invest more aggressively into broadly based research activities with the objective to quantify the seismic hazards, the exposed assets and their seismic fragilities much more accurately than currently possible. Only together these combined measures may first help to quantify and then reduce our currently untenably large seismic risk exposures in the virtually unprepared eastern cities. Given the low-probability/high-impact situation in this part of the country, seismic safety planning needs to be woven into both the regular capital spending and daily operational procedures. Without it we must be prepared to see little progress. Unless we succeed to build seismic safety considerations into everyday decision making as a normal procedure of doing business, society will lose the race against the unstoppable forces of nature. While we never can entirely win this race, we can succeed in converting unmitigated catastrophes into manageable disasters, or better, tolerable natural events.

The Scarlet Woman Shows Her True Colors (Rev 17:4)


 
Clinton didn’t learn from Iraq

First Posted: 11:28 am – October 28th, 2015 – 264 Views
Medea Benjamin – Contributing Columnist

As the first Democratic presidential debate drew to a close, moderator Anderson Cooper posed a question to Hillary Clinton: How might her presidency differ from Barack Obama’s?

Clinton smiled. “Well, I think it’s pretty obvious,” she replied to rapturous applause. “Being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had.”

Indeed, a Hillary Clinton presidency would shatter the glass ceiling for women in the United States. But it would also leave intact the old boys’ military-industrial complex that’s kept our nation in a perpetual state of war for decades.

Clinton, it seems, failed to learn anything after supporting the disastrous Iraq War, which plunged a huge swath of the Middle East into chaos and cost her the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Instead of embracing diplomacy, she continued to champion ill-conceived military interventions as secretary of state.

In 2011, when the Arab Spring came to Libya, Clinton was the Obama administration’s most forceful advocate for intervening to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. She even out-hawked Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief first appointed by George W. Bush who was less than enthusiastic about going to war in Libya.

Ironically, the political grief Clinton has suffered over the subsequent attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, might never have occurred if Clinton had opted against intervening in Libya’s civil war.

While House Republicans recently spent 11 hours relentlessly drilling Clinton about Benghazi and her personal email account, the larger disaster by far is the postwar chaos that’s left Libya without a functioning government, overrun by feuding warlords and extremist militants.

Clinton favors greater military intervention in Syria’s civil war, too. In her presidential bid, she’s joined hawkish Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham in supporting the creation of a no-fly zone over the country.

That puts her at odds not only with President Barack Obama, but also with her Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders, who warned that it could “get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region.”

Clinton did end up supporting the administration’s Iran nuclear deal, but her support came with a history of bellicose baggage.

Back in 2008, for example, she warned that Washington could “totally obliterate“ Iran. During that presidential campaign, she chided Obama as “na├»ve” and “irresponsible” for wanting to engage the country diplomatically.

Even after the nuclear agreement was sealed, she struck a bullying tone: “I don’t believe Iran is our partner in this agreement,” Clinton insisted. “Iran is the subject of the agreement.” She added that she “won’t hesitate to take military action” if it falls through.

Contrast Clinton with the more moderate Secretary of State John Kerry. It’s no wonder Obama’s two signature foreign policy achievements — the Iran deal and the groundbreaking opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba — came after Clinton left.

There was a very telling moment about Clinton’s attitude during the debate when Cooper asked, “Which enemy are you most proud of?”

Alongside the NRA, Republicans, and health insurance companies, Clinton listed “the Iranians” — which could mean either the Iranian government or the nation’s 78 million people. In either case, it wasn’t a very diplomatic thing to say while her successor and former colleagues are trying to chart a new, more cooperative relationship with Iran.

When it comes to war and peace, it might not matter too much if a Republican or Hillary Clinton wins the White House. In either case, the winner will be the military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about.

Another Warning Of The New York Quake (Rev 6:12)


 
Earthquake shakes Upstate NY; no damage or injuries reported

Allie Healy | ahealy@syracuse.com By Allie Healy | ahealy@syracuse.com
on October 28, 2015 at 10:06 PM, updated October 28, 2015 at 10:07 PM

Some in a town near Albany felt the ground shaking on Wednesday afternoon.

A 2.5-magnitude earthquake was measured at 4:42 p.m. northwest of Gloversville, N.Y., the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

The Albany Times Union says the earthquake occurred in the town of Johnstown, located about 42 miles northwest of Albany.

The quake had a depth of about two miles and was felt in Broadalbin, Gloversville and Mayfield. Residents in Fulton, Montgomery and Saratoga counties also reported feeling it, WNYT says.
A Fulton County sheriff’s department dispatcher tells the Times Union that there were no reports of damage or injury. Thirty-three people called in reports of “shaking,” with strength ranging from “light” to “weak.”

The U.S. Geological Survey says the Adirondack region is one of the most seismically active parts of the northeastern U.S., the Times Union notes. The most recent earthquake to occur in New York State was on Sept. 27 recorded east northeast of Stamford in Delaware County, registering a 3.0 magnitude.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

No Close Calls This Time (Revelation 15:2)


 
Revealed: US almost launched nuclear weapons during Cuban Missile Crisis

Published time: 28 Oct, 2015 22:11
Edited time: 28 Oct, 2015 22:14

During the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, an Air Force airman says that his unit was ordered to launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. His captain’s use of common sense over 50 years ago may have saved the world from a nuclear apocalypse.

An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists paints a picture of John Bordne, an Air Force airman who was stationed at one of four secret US missile sites in Japan during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. While the US Air Force has not come out and verified the claims, Bordne’s account is that, in the early morning hours of October 28, 1962, his unit of 32 Mace B cruise missiles inexplicably received launch orders.

Each Mace B cruise missile had an enormous payload 70 times more powerful than the atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Within strike range were various communist countries: the capital cities of Hanoi, Vietnam; Beijing, China; and Pyongyang, North Korea, as well as the Soviet military facilities in Vladivostok.

Bordne says that a few hours before his shift began, the commander at the Missile Operations Center on Okinawa began a routine radio transmission to the missile sites, giving a string of characters that normally did not match the ones that the crews had. But this time was different: For the first time in history, the codes matched.

The fate of the entire world hung in the balance when US Air Force Captain William Bassett had clearance to open his pouch to see if his personal string of characters matched the last part of the code that was transmitted. They did. This authorized him to open an envelope to read his site’s launch instructions, but the captain declined to fulfill the order of launching a nuclear strike.

Bassett then saw that three of his four targets described in the envelope were not located in the Soviet Union. This was a fact that was corroborated over telephone correspondence with an officer at a different site. Indeed, the fact that they were only at DEFCON 2 added to the incredulousness of the orders: If they were actually supposed to launch their nuclear missiles and kick off World War III, they should have gone to DEFCON 1, the maximum possible level of alert, which is necessary for such a strike to occur.

The crew, with their fingers on the button, were ready to launch the nukes, but Bassett stalled them, as Bordne recalls, and ordered two armed airmen to “shoot the [lieutenant] if he tries to launch without [either] verbal authorization from the ‘senior officer in the field’ or the upgrade to DEFCON 1 by Missile Operations Center.”

“If this is a screw up and we do not launch, we get no recognition, and this never happened,” Bordne recalled the captain saying.

And the fiasco turned out to be a screw up indeed, one of a magnitude only a few notches away from nuclear war.

“None of us will discuss anything that happened here tonight, and I mean anything. No discussions at the barracks, in a bar, or even here at the launch site. You do not even write home about this. Am I making myself perfectly clear on this subject?” Bassett reportedly told his men after the crisis had passed.

Bassett died in 2011, and during his lifetime, the crew faithfully kept to his orders, with the public remaining oblivious to crisis until now.

But not even those stationed at the secret bases on Okinawa could have known that the Soviet Union was facing its own brush with starting World War III.

On October 27, 1962, just a day before Bordne’s experience occurred, Soviet Navy officer Vasili Arkhipov also saved the world from destruction in the middle of the Cold War’s tensest moment. He was the second-in-command of a B-59 submarine when American destroyers began to drop depth charges on it, trying to force the Soviet vessel to surface.

The submarine’s captain assumed that the Americans were trying to destroy his nuclear-armed submarine and that a catastrophic war had broken out. He ordered the B-59’s ten kiloton nuclear torpedo to prepare for firing on an enemy aircraft carrier that was leading the American task force near Cuba. The  launch of the B-59’s torpedo required the authorization of all three senior officers aboard the submarine, and Arkhipov was alone in denying permission. His level head, like Bassett’s, may have saved the human species.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, best known for its Doomsday clock, is now calling on the Air Force to release details on the harrowing Okinawa event. Other organizations have attempted to uncover this information through Freedom of Information Act requests, but the Bulletin notes that these requests could take years, if they are successful at all.

Khan and Iran: The Nuclear Horns (Daniel 8:8)



Iran’s nuke ambitions confirmed: Former president reveals meetings with Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan

Special to WorldTribune.com

Iran has long intended to attain nuclear weapons capability, going so far as to enlist the help of rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said.
In an interview with state-run IRNA news agency, Rafsanjani said Iran’s nuclear ambitions became clear amid the Iran-Iraq War that began in 1980 and ended in 1988.

“At the time that we started, we were at war and we were looking to have this capability [the nuclear bomb] for the day that our enemy would want to resort to the nuclear bomb,” Rafsanjani said.
The Persian-language interview was translated by Iranian opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Rafsanjani, Iran’s president from 1989-1997, said in the interview that Iran’s “basic doctrine was peaceful usage of the nuclear technology,” but added “we never abandoned the idea that if one day we are threatened and it is imperative, we would have the capability for going the other path [to nuclear weapon] as well.”

Rafsanjani also admitted that Teheran had sought the assistance of Khan. The former president said that he, along with current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, then a senior official in Ayatollah Khomenei’s regime, traveled to Pakistan to meet with Khan, who is believed to have sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

“There were some talks with the Pakistanis. There was a nuclear scientist called Abdul Qadeer Khan in Pakistan… In a trip to Pakistan, I asked to see him. They did not show him to me,” he said.
Though he did not meet with Khan, Rafsanjani said that “it seemed that Mr. Abdul Qadeer Khan himself believed that the Islamic World should have the nuclear bomb. He believed in this and it was he who built Pakistan’s nuclear bomb although it took time to build the bomb. In any case, they agreed to help us a bit.

“We implemented part of our nuclear activity when we were still at war and Iraq was close to securing enrichment when Israel destroyed all of it,” he said, referring to Israel’s daring raid on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility which destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program.

“Those years, we were all thinking that we should arm ourselves with deterrent elements since the war was not about to end and in our defensive policies we had the word of Imam [Khomeini] in mind that the war may last 20 years,” Rafsanjani said in what the NCRI believes is an admission of the “regime’s intentions to acquire (a) nuclear weapon.”

An Odd Statement From The Scarlet Woman (Revelation 17:4)


 
Hillary Clinton: death penalty used ‘too frequently’ in the US

Lauren Gambino in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Ed Pilkington in New York
Wednesday 28 October 2015 17.42 EDT

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton does not support abolishing the death penalty, but questioned the frequency with which it is applied.

At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Clinton said the federal government needs to take a “hard look” at capital punishment, which she said has been “too frequently applied” in an “indiscriminate way”.

“I do not favor abolishing however, because I think there are certain egregious [cases] that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty,” Clinton said in Manchester on Wednesday.
Clinton qualified her support of the death penalty by explaining that it should be used only in “very limited and rare” circumstances.

“We have a lot of evidence now that the death penalty has been too frequently applied and very, unfortunately, often times in a discriminatory way,” Clinton said.

Her remarks on the death penalty, though cautiously phrased, amount to a rare foray by Clinton into a subject that she has generally sidestepped. In 1976, as a young lawyer in Arkansas, she was part of a team that successfully fought to keep an intellectually disabled person, Henry Giles, from the death chamber.

Her passionate stance against execution in that case contrasted strongly with that of her husband Bill Clinton, who boosted his tough-on-crime credentials in the 1992 presidential election by refusing to grant clemency to a condemned man, Rickey Ray Rector.

Hillary Clinton’s own views have been hard to pin down in recent years given her prolonged silence on the issue. In her bid for the New York seat in the US Senate in 2000, she said that she gave her “unenthusiastic support” to capital punishment – a hedged position similar to the one she expressed on Wednesday that did not please the liberal wing of the Democratic party.

Clinton’s latest comments come against the backdrop of a nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs, the result of a European-led boycott, that has refreshed the debate over the death penalty and raised important constitutional questions about what constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment”.
The scarcity of lethal drugs has forced states to scramble to obtain alternatives, leading several states to resort to using untested cocktails as a means of executing condemned prisoners.

She also noted that several states are “beginning to pull back from either applying the death penalty or narrowing the scope of the cases where it can be applied”.

“I think we have to be smarter and more careful about how we do it,” Clinton said.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s rivals for the Democratic nomination for president are both opposed to the death penalty. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s closest challenger in the race, has said he is strongly opposed to the death penalty.

In response to Clinton’s remarks on Wednesday, Martin O’Malley said capital punishment is “fundamentally at odds with our values”.

“The death penalty is racially biased, ineffective deterrent to crime, and we must abolish it,” said O’Malley, who as governor of Maryland abolished the death penalty in the state in 2013. “Our nation should not be in the company of Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen in carrying out the majority of public executions.”

Economic Consequences of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States
NYCEM.org

If today a magnitude 6 earthquake were to occur centered on New York City, what would its effects be? Will the loss be 10 or 100 billion dollars? Will there be 10 or 10,000 fatalities? Will there be 1,000 or 100,000 homeless needing shelter? Can government function, provide assistance, and maintain order?

At this time, no satisfactory answers to these questions are available. A few years ago, rudimentary scenario studies were made for Boston and New York with limited scope and uncertain results. For most eastern cities, including Washington D.C., we know even less about the economic, societal and political impacts from significant earthquakes, whatever their rate of occurrence.

Why do we know so little about such vital public issues? Because the public has been lulled into believing that seriously damaging quakes are so unlikely in the east that in essence we do not need to consider them. We shall examine the validity of this widely held opinion.

Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low Seismicity, Seismic Hazard, or Seismic Risk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions.
Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so?

To check the assertion, let us make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. The expected seismic risk for a given area is defined as the area-integrated product of: seismic hazard (expected shaking level), assets ($ and people), and the assets’ vulnerabilities (that is, their expected fractional loss given a certain hazard – say, shaking level). Thus, if we have a 100 times lower seismicity rate in New York compared to California, which at any given point from a given quake may yield a 2 times higher shaking level in New York compared to California because ground motions in the east are known to differ from those in the west; and if we have a 2 times higher asset density (a modest assumption for Manhattan!), and a 2 times higher vulnerability (again a modest assumption when considering the large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings and aged infrastructure in New York), then our California/New York ratio for annualized loss potential may be on the order of (100/(2x2x2)):1. That implies about a 12:1 risk ratio between the California and New York location, compared to a 100:1 ratio in seismicity rates.

From this example it appears that seismic awareness in the east may be more controlled by the rate of seismicity than by the less well understood risk potential. This misunderstanding is one of the reasons why earthquake awareness and preparedness in the densely populated east is so disproportionally low relative to its seismic loss potential. Rare but potentially catastrophic losses in the east compete in attention with more frequent moderate losses in the west. New York City is the paramount example of a low-probability, high-impact seismic risk, the sort of risk that is hard to insure against, or mobilize public action to reduce the risks.

There are basically two ways to respond. One is to do little and wait until one or more disastrous events occur. Then react to these – albeit disastrous – “windows of opportunity.” That is, pay after the unmitigated facts, rather than attempt to control their outcome. This is a high-stakes approach, considering the evolved state of the economy. The other approach is to invest in mitigation ahead of time, and use scientific knowledge and inference, education, technology transfer, and combine it with a mixture of regulatory and/or economic incentives to implement earthquake preparedness. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) has attempted the latter while much of the public tends to cling to the former of the two options. Realistic and reliable quantitative loss estimation techniques are essential to evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches.

This paper tries to bring into focus some of the seismological factors which are but one set of variables one needs for quantifying the earthquake loss potential in eastern U.S. urban regions. We use local and global analogs for illustrating possible scenario events in terms of risk. We also highlight some of the few local steps that have been undertaken towards mitigating against the eastern earthquake threat; and discuss priorities for future actions.
Next article September 29, 2014

Nebuchadnezzar and the Small Horn (Daniel 8:9)

Barack-Obama

Obama Still Has No Strategy Against Islamic State

10/27/2015 07:06 PM ET
What we learned from Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday is that the Obama administration says it is willing to conduct “direct action on the ground,” but it still hasn’t settled on how to fight the Islamic State.
A year and four months of fighting a newly formed monster that has consumed large parts of Iraq and Syria, claiming to be a new country, a global caliphate attracting jihadists from all over the world, and the United States still has no strategy against it.
Still, President Obama’s promise seems to be fraying. “I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said a year ago September. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”
When the success of President Bush’s 2007 surge in Iraq is contrasted with the vacillation and lack of confidence in our role we witness today, it becomes harder to make the case that IS is the creation of Bush rather than Obama.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, asked by CNN last week if the Iraq invasion brought IS into being, answered, “I think there are elements of truth in that,” but also added that “we have got to be extremely careful, otherwise we will misunderstand what’s going on in Iraq and in Syria today.”
According to Blair, who worked closely with Bush on ousting Saddam Hussein, “you can’t say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.”
It would have been truer, however, to say: “You can’t say that those of us who weren’t in power from 2009 to today bear most of the responsibility for the situation in 2015.”
The 2003 invasion removed a thug from Iraq whose nuclear reactor has to be destroyed 35 years ago and who used chemical weapons on his own populace. The 2007 surge saved Iraq from going under. IS emerged in 2014 under the U.S. leader who squandered those gains, refused to finish the job, then underestimated IS in its formative states as a “jayvee” team.
As President Obama rethinks his no-ground-troops promise, he faces a mess of his own making.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pakistan and India are MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction)

 Pakistan’s nuclear weapons may not deter Indian retaliation, but destruction mutual
 
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons may not deter an Indian retaliation in case of a mass-casualty terror strike, but an escalation is likely to ensure mutual destruction.

Written by Praveen Swami |
Published on:October 28, 2015 12:15 am

“The most fantastic wargame the world can ever have seen,” an excited magazine called it. In the summer of 1955, the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force, along with the United States’ Sixth Fleet and 49th Air Division, hurled itself at Belgian, British and Dutch forces, supported by the Second Tactical Air Force. Exercise Carte Blanche was the first effort to simulate what would happen when Nato used its new tactical nuclear weapons to beat back Soviet armour driving towards the heart of Europe.
In less than a week, the answers were in: 1.7 million dead, 3.5 million injured, large parts of Europe levelled by 335 nuclear bombs. The mock-Soviets won, despite Nato’s use of tactical nuclear weapons. That is, if the desolation could be called victory: “…there would be no winners and no losers,” Air Commodore Peter Wykeham-Barnes told journalists of the new kind of war.

Last week, behind closed doors, the US held out a stark message to Pakistan’s visiting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. India’s government, he was warned, was almost certain to authorise strikes against jihadist infrastructure inside Pakistan in the event of a mass-casualty terrorist strike. Had terrorists succeeded in blowing up a passenger train in Gurdaspur earlier this summer, war might well have been the outcome.

Few believe PM Nawaz is serious about his promise to take on the Lashkar-e-Taiba — an organisation the Pakistani state has long patronised. For both Indians and Pakistanis, it is important to start talking about the costs of failing to do so.

The facts driving the US’s grim warnings are known. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an air force that India’s intelligence services provide with targeting data on at least a dozen jihadist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The army is confident it can inflict punishment across the Line of Control (LoC), and contain the inevitable retaliation. The PM, in his election campaign, promised to “speak to Pakistan in its language” on terrorism — and would be under pressure to deliver if a large terrorist attack occurred. Frustration has long mounted in India about the lack of means to deter nuclear-armed Pakistan from backing jihadist proxies.

In 2001-02, then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee threatened war after India’s Parliament was attacked — only to be deterred by the prospect of a nuclear conflagration. Although the near-war did push the Pervez Musharraf regime to initiate a de-escalation of the jihad in Kashmir, learning the right lessons about the costs of crisis, it also taught the Pakistan army that its nuclear weapons would deter India from actually going to war. Following Musharraf’s departure, his successors thus felt able to resume their covert war — leading up to 26/11.

In a crisis meeting held as Mumbai burned, then PM Manmohan Singh is known to have asked military commanders for options. The air force noted that there wasn’t enough intelligence for precision strikes on jihadist camps across the LoC. General Deepak Kapoor, then army chief, wasn’t confident the army could successfully wage a short-duration war.

Even as India has sharpened its sword though, Islamabad has also strengthened its shield — growing its nuclear arsenal and letting its willingness to use these weapons be known. Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris estimated earlier this year that Pakistan’s arsenal has expanded to between 110 and 130 warheads — exceeding levels the US estimated it would reach in 2020.

The Indian gamble is this: Air strikes and small military operations on the LoC won’t give Pakistan enough reason to escalate a conflict, mired as it is in a sapping internal war. Although there would likely be some retaliation against the Indian strikes, punishment for terrorism would have been delivered. India might have to absorb some blows in return, the thinking goes, but both sides could, plausibly, declare victory — an attractive end-state for political leaders.

The story, though, may not end there. Terrorists will, almost certainly, retaliate against the destruction of their infrastructure by staging more attacks. India’s government will have no option but to hit back. Each successive phase of Indian retaliation will, inexorably, be that much more intense, as New Delhi seeks to compel Pakistan’s military establishment to act against its terrorist proxies.

Ever since 1990, when China tested Pakistan’s first nuclear weapon on its behalf — in the midst of a crisis sparked off by the Khalistan insurgency — the fear of such a war has haunted Pakistan’s strategic thinking.

Lt Colonel Syed Akhtar Husain Shah, writing in a Pakistan army publication in 1994, warned that the “probability of the application of nuclear devices at the strategic and tactical level will be high”.
Like Pakistan, the US had hoped tactical nuclear weapons would blunt the Soviet Union’s conventional-power edge. In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower took office, with a plan of budget cuts that needed US forces in Europe to be reduced to 5,00,000 from 1.5 million — and thought nuclear weapons would even the score. From the mid-1970s though, US military manuals simply stopped trying to tell commanders how to fight a nuclear war: Simulations like Carte Blanche made it clear there wasn’t a winnable option.

In 1962, Exercise Fallex concluded that 10-15 million Germans would be slaughtered in a limited nuclear war — this, despite targeting instructions designed to minimise civilian casualties. In 1972, the Soviet general staff completed the last of a series of exercises simulating a European nuclear war. The numbers were stark: Eight million dead, 85 per cent of Soviet industrial capacity wiped out, the army degraded by a factor of 1,000; the European part of the country reduced to an uninhabitable wasteland. The two Cold War adversaries came to the conclusion, in the 1980s, that a war in Europe was unwinnable — and focussed on enhancing their conventional defensive means instead.

For Pakistan, there are obvious lessons here. Its nuclear weapons may not deter Indian retaliation — and may not succeed in ending a conventional war, should one begin. Although cultivating ties with anti-India jihadists may seem attractive to a military establishment whose legitimacy is under challenge from hostile Islamists, it is a high-risk strategy. The generals need to ask themselves if risking annihilation is an acceptable price for legitimacy.

India, in turn, needs to consider that the goddess of the battlefield is fickle with her favours. “If the military art could be reduced to arithmetic,” Soviet nuclear theoretician General Andrian Danilevich observed, “we would not need any wars. You could simply look at the correlation of forces, make some calculations, and tell your opponent, ‘we outnumber you 2:1, victory is ours, please surrender’.”

“The correlation of force is significant,” he concluded, “but there is also a sea of specific, subjective factors, or even random events, which reduce these objective factors to nil”. For years now, both countries have worked on the assumption that time is on their side. From the status quo to the apocalypse, though, might not be as long a walk as we imagine.

praveen.swami@expressindia.com

The Iraq War Ended When? (Ezekiel 17)


IMG_2171.JPG

US reveals: Over 3,000 troops in Syria, Iraq

Top US military officer says Iran has 2,000 soldiers in Syria, 1,000 in Iraq; Defense Sec. hints at ‘direct US action on the ground.’

By Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 10/27/2015, 7:07 PM
 
The top US military officer revealed on Tuesday that the Iranian regime has deployed 2,000 soldiers in Syria to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and another 1,000 or more in Iraq.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, made the revelation while saying Iran has increased and decreased its ground forces over time, reports Reuters.
“I think there’s more than 1,000 that are on the ground in Iraq. In Syria, we think the numbers are probably something less than 2,000,” said Dunford of Iranian troop deployment.

Iran just this month denied it has troops on the ground in Syria, even though the past two weeks have seen the deaths of one of Iran’s best known generals, Hossein Hamedanitwo colonels and at least nine other members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), all in Syria.

In what could be a sign of Iran’s increased military presence in Syria echoing a similar Russian buildup, Iran’s top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was spotted in Syria two weeks ago addressing Iranian military officers and members of the Iran-proxy Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

Soleimani, who is listed as a terrorist by the United States, is one of several Iranian officials targeted by a 2007 United Nations travel ban because of their alleged links to Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, but the sanctions against him are due to be lifted in the Iran nuclear deal.

US eyes “direct action on the ground”

For its part, the US on Tuesday announced it will be stepping up its campaign against Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the escalation, hinting at additional air strikes and possible direct action on the ground.

“We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground,” Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee, using an alternate acronym for the jihadist group.
He did not elaborate on what he meant by “direct action on the ground,” in an odd choice of words given the Obama administration’s stated opposition to committing US ground forces to Syria.
However US special forces did recently take part in a daring raid on an ISIS prison in Iraq.
Carter said the United States would focus its efforts on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria and boost support for rebel groups fighting the jihadists.

“We expect to intensify our air campaign, including with additional US and coalition aircraft, to target ISIL with a higher and heavier rate of strikes,” Carter said. “This will include more strikes against ISIL high-value targets as our intelligence improves.”

Carter’s pledge to intensify strikes comes as the US-led coalition has in fact been striking fewer targets in Syria in recent months. Pentagon officials insist the diminished tempo reflects a lack of decent targets, and has nothing to do with Russia launching its own bombing campaign a month ago.
While the new announcement may signify a new direction in the campaign, US President Barack Obama has received a great deal of flak for his management of the strikes against ISIS.

That criticism rose further back in June, when Obama admitted he doesn’t have “a complete strategy” to fight ISIS.

AFP contributed to this report.

The Sixth Seal: Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

Eastern Quakes: Real Risk, Few Precautions

1989 San Francisco Earthquake
1989 San Francisco Earthquake

By WILLIAM K. STEVENS
Published: 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.”
 
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.”

So This Is What Those ICBMs Are For (Daniel 8:4)


Iranian Military Chief Threatens Israel With Long-Range Missile Attack, Destruction
OCTOBER 26, 2015 1:01 PM

Algemeiner

The commander of Iran’s ground forces threatened Israel with a missile attack — and destruction in less than 25 years, Iran’s Arabic-language, state-run Al-Alam News Network reported on Monday.

“If Israel makes any move, we will respond with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s long-range missiles,” said Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan. He added that Tehran would not hesitate to use its military capabilities to “direct fatal blows” to the Jewish state and “possibly erase it from existence.”

Referring to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s assertion in September that Israel — which he called a “fake regime” — would be destroyed within 25 years, Pourdastan said Iran was “very eager to see Israel make a stupid move to put the Supreme Leader’s remarks into action as soon as possible.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Costly British Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)



UK Nuclear Deterrent To Cost $256 Billion, Far More Than Expected

By Reuters
on October 25 2015 4:30 PM EDT

LONDON (Reuters) — The overall cost of replacing and maintaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent will reach 167 billion pounds ($256 billion), much more than expected, according to a lawmaker’s and Reuters’ calculations based on official figures.

The Scottish Nationalist Party, which wants Britain’s Scotland-based nuclear-armed Trident submarines scrapped, called the sum “unthinkable and indefensible

” at a time when deep cuts under the government’s “austerity” policies mean “thousands of people across the UK are struggling to afford basics like food.”

Some military officials also oppose investment in Trident, saying the money would be better spent on maintaining the army and on more-conventional technology, which have also faced cuts.
Until now, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has said replacing the aging fleet of four submarines that carry nuclear warheads to provide a continuous at-sea deterrent would cost an estimated 15-20 billion pounds.

It has as yet given no official estimate of the cost of its replacement and maintenance.
Critics have previously said Britain would need to spend 100 billion pounds, a figure based on a 2014 report by the independent Trident Commission.

In a written parliamentary response to Crispin Blunt, a lawmaker in Cameron’s Conservative Party, Minister of State for Defense Procurement Philip Dunne said Friday the acquisition of four new submarines would cost 25 billion pounds.

He added that the in-service costs would be about 6 percent of the annual defense budget over their lifetime. The total defense budget for 2014-15 reached 33.8 billion pounds and rises to 34.1 billion pounds for 2015-16, according to the ministry.

“My office’s calculation is based on an in-service date of 2028 and a missile extension until 2060 … the total cost is 167 billion pounds,” Blunt told Reuters.

“The successor Trident program is going to consume more than double the proportion of the defense budget of its predecessor. … The price required, both from the U.K. taxpayer and our conventional forces, is now too high to be rational or sensible.”

His figure is based on the presumption that Britain will spend 2 percent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) on defense as Cameron’s government has promised.

It also uses existing official government and International Monetary Fund figures, and an assumption of GDP growth of an annual average of 2.48 percent between 2020 and 2060.

Using the same figures, a Reuters calculation came to the same sum of 167 billion pounds.

Asked about the rising cost, a spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defense said the government had published an unclassified version of a review on alternatives to Trident that “demonstrated that no alternative system is as capable, or as cost-effective, as a Trident-based deterrent”.

“At around 6 percent of the annual defense budget, the in-service costs of the UK’s national deterrent … are affordable and represent an investment in a capability which plays an important role in ensuring the UK’s national security,” the spokesperson said.

Dangerous Obsession

The deputy leader of the SNP, Stewart Hosie, took aim at the Conservatives, or “Tories,” saying the new figure showed “just how dangerous the Tories’ obsession with nuclear really is”.

“This is truly an unthinkable and indefensible sum of money to spend on the renewal of an unwanted and unusable nuclear weapons system,” he said in a statement.

The SNP’s popularity has surged since Scots rejected independence in a vote last year, with millions of supporters won over by its anti-austerity message and criticism of Trident.

The opposition Labour Party had been a supporter of renewal, but its new leader, far-left veteran lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-war campaigner, is opposed to the plans.

He was widely quoted last month as saying he would not be prepared to use nuclear weapons if he became prime minister.

Spiraling costs are likely to reinforce Corbyn’s opposition and possibly alarm many in his party who support renewal.

The new figures tally with comments this month by Jon Thompson, the top civil servant at the Ministry of Defense, when he described the project to replace the nuclear deterrent as a “monster.”

“That’s the project that keeps me awake at night the most,” he told parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

“It’s the biggest project the Ministry of Defense is ever going to take on. If the government were to proceed with renewing the deterrent, then in due course that would exceed 5 billion [pounds] a year. That is a significant proportion of the defense budget, and it’s an incredibly complicated area.”

He added that it is extremely difficult to estimate what the future costs will be.

A final decision on replacing the existing vessels carrying the Trident missiles — four Vanguard-class submarines — is due next year, and Cameron says he will press ahead with the renewal.

In August, the government said it would spend more than 500 million pounds refurbishing its Faslane naval base in Scotland.

“I think it is right to maintain our independent nuclear deterrent, and anyone who has any doubts of it only has to look at the dangers and uncertainty in our world,” Cameron told parliament Wednesday.
In a speech last week, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said global threats mean renewing Trident is vital.

“I appeal to all moderate MPs [lawmakers] to put our national security first and to support building four new Trident submarines,” he said. “Spread across the 30-year life of the new boats, this represents an annual insurance premium of around 0.13 percent of total government spending.”