Monday, January 22, 2018

The Risk of Nuclear War Under Trump (Revelation 15)

Chinese President Xi Jinping never warmed to Barack Obama, whom he found too spartan, principled, and imperious. It was hardly an accident that the Chinese failed to provide a stairway capable of reaching the front door of Air Force One when Obama arrived at the APEC summit in 2016, forcing the sitting president to humiliatingly exit through a fold-down rear service door. And while the Chinese now may be bewildered by how an ostensible great power like the United States could have heaved up a leader as base as Donald Trump, they also comprehend an important aspect of him. After experiencing the garish glitziness of Mar-a-Lago, Xi Jinping immediately understood his guest’s weakness for the affectations of wealth and power.
Trump’s recent trip to China, the highlight of his 12-day tour of Asia last November, was so grand as to be considered a “state-visit plus.” As Air Force One touched down in Beijing, the president and Melania Trump were greeted not only by a proper staircase, but were treated to a full measure of Chinese pomp and ceremony, including a special banquet in the Forbidden City. At a welcome reception at the Great Hall of the People, a Stalinist relic from the era of Sino-society amity in the 1950s, Xi officially greeted his guest with a brace of antiphonal buglers; acres of red carpeting; a sword-wielding drillmaster; two military bands; a goose-stepping honor guard; a phalanx of rouge-cheeked, flag- and flower-waving elementary-school students; and a 21-gun salute from artillery pieces lined up in Tiananmen Square, right where demonstrating students had camped out in 1989.
As Trump and Xi proceeded along the maze of red carpeting, there was no greater visual emblem of the U.S.-China divide than the contrast between Trump’s cotton-candy hair (whose carotene-orange hue appeared to have been color corrected to off-white for the occasion) and the shoe-polish black, lacquered helmet that is Xi Jinping’s tonsorial signature. Always obsessed with appearances, Trump strode, with jaw jutting forward, like a prizefighter trying to play the part of the tough guy as he marches to the ring. As they progressed, Trump made occasional nervous comments, and Xi gave no hint of what was within, allowing only his signature Mona Lisa smile to cross his impassive face. But, then, he and the Chinese government are to transparency what anti-matter is to matter: the very antithesis of the self-indulgent, histrionic, and tweet-crazed Trump. If the latter is the product of American reality-TV kultur, the former is a product of ruthless Leninism and the ancient Chinese legalist philosophical tradition of Han Feizi, who counseled rulers of old: “Be empty, still, and idle, and from your place of darkness observe the defects of others.”
A press briefing unfolded in an ornate salon inside the Great Hall behind two matching lecterns festooned with funereal-like bouquets of flowers arrayed before a frieze of American and Chinese flags. Xi’s remarks included American-style “win-win cooperation” platitudes that took little account of the myriad thorny issues actually dividing the two countries. Trump, too, indulged in similar bromides about how “respective success serves the common interests of both.” It was as if neither leader wanted to publicly touch the hot rails of all that actually divided them.
But what Trump really wanted was assurance from Xi that China would help keep North Korea and its errant leader in check. “The entire civilized world must unite to confront the North Korean menace,” he said in his remarks, stressing it would “require collective action, collective strength, and collective devotion” to solve this intractable challenge. Nowhere did he note that over the past few decades, China has been the Kim dynasty’s greatest enabler.
Donald and Melania Trump visit the Forbidden City with Xi Jinping in Beijing, November 8, 2017; Trump gestures toward Xi as Melania and Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan look on in the Great Hall of the People, November 9, 2017.
Top, by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters; Bottom, by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images.
It was a remarkable moment to witness firsthand, having accompanied Trump on his trip. I have covered China summits with presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, when they all sallied forth to Beijing armored with policy studies, cadres of expert advisers, and, crucially, commitments to pursuing democratic principles. But what seemed to animate Trump most was not policy, but the theatrics of the popularity contest he felt thrust upon him, in which his top priority was winning over counterparts to make them like him. “It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received,” he warbled towards the end of his trip, clearly ego-gratified by all the superficial pageantry, as if it was the majesty of his being that had precipitated such honors.
It was clear from the moment Trump touched down that the Chinese had recognized in him a man of supreme vanity who would be easily manipulated. It is a psychological syndrome with which they, too, have had no small amount of historical experience. And it is one that makes it possible to understand Trump, even when his actions seem incompressible. In Beijing, as in Washington, Trump’s January 2 tweet taunting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the size of his “nuclear button” was variously interpreted as Trumpian umbrage at the imputation that the manhood of an overweight, Oriental potentate had trumped his own. It was also a crass repudiation of that U.S. tradition of presidents refusing to stoop to the same rhetorical level as Pyongyang; another sign of Trump’s propensity to personalize everything; and a demonstration of the shameless way Republican loyalists excuse the president as “Trump being Trump.” But there is another interpretation, one that should trouble Trump’s detractors and supporters alike: Our president’s chest beating is a recognition that his plan to isolate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has failed, and that he and his administration now find themselves backed into a corner with just two options: A) Eat crow. B) Launch a pre-emptive strike.
Xi Jinping, who was once naïvely seen by Trump as the kind of fellow plutocrat he could beguile into squeezing Kim into submission, has proven a less-than-pliable partner. Making matters worse, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, is now set to engage in direct talks with the North and has committed to marching together with the North at the Olympic parade, moves that further strain Washington’s already tense relationship with Seoul. (Nonetheless, even as he has charged Moon with trying to appease North Korea, Trump wasted little time in claiming credit for bringing the two sides to the table.)
With his trip to China having produced limited returns and his isolation strategy flailing, Trump now seems to have no choice but to boast of his nuclear arsenal and raise the specter of war. The more ominous danger, however, is that a spurned Trump may feel his manhood so imperiled that he will opt for a pre-emptive military strike. It’s an option that most Washington policy hands understand would be catastrophic. In August, Trump’s now-cashiered strategic adviser, Steve Bannon, blurted out what others within the administration surely recognized, but dared not say: “Forget it,” he told American Prospect. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about! There’s no military solution here! They got us!”
But Bannon is now an affront to Trump and, in recent talks with Washington officials and cognoscenti, one gets the sense that despite President Moon’s efforts to halt the spiral of rising tensions on the 38th parallel, military options are still far from off the table.
As I watched Trump woo his way across Asia, the biggest question was whether his inexperience would lead him to mistake the pageantry that invariably accompanies such diplomatic visits (no matter whom you are!) as special deference—even as a unique sign of friendship. For what seemed most important to this callow man was to imagine that where all his predecessors had struggled, he alone could seduce other heads of state with his divine deal-making powers—especially Xi on critical issues such as trade, rule of law, and, yes, North Korea. Indeed, his courtship was so ardent, it did not even seem to occur to him that perhaps he himself would end up being taken for a ride. Or, worse, that a shrewd politician like Xi might run the table on him entirely.
Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Koreas Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland and Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea’s unification minister, shake hands during a meeting at the Peace House in the village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, January 9, 2018.
From KPPA/Pool/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Because Xi had already long since nixed taking questions from the press in the Great Hall of the People, once the two leaders had unburdened themselves of their prepared statements, they simply shook hands, turned away from the hundreds of attending journalists, and left. “This is a milestone!” fumed an American correspondent. Trump hadn’t strenuously protested the absence of a Q&A period, and why would he? Not only did Xi deliver the ritual adoration Trump craved, but he eliminated the insubordinate questions from the press that he loathes. Relieved of the confrontational media, raucous demonstrators, tenacious investigators, and the need to constantly defend himself, Trump did seem more composed—even more presidential. How ironic that the leader of the U.S., the most durable democracy on the planet, seemed to feel more at home in the People’s Republic, where the press is largely the megaphone of a Communist Party, than in the free world!
Indeed, Trump’s embrace of Xi, and his unwillingness to engage with Beijing on democratic issues such as human rights, was not surprising, but nonetheless disorienting for anyone accustomed to American presidents in China. When Clinton held his summit in Beijing less than a decade after the 1989 Beijing massacre, he publicly raised the issue of Tiananmen Square with President Jiang Zemin. “I believe, and the American people believe, that the use of force and the tragic loss of life was wrong,” Clinton candidly proclaimed. “If you are so afraid of personal freedom because of the abuse that you limit people’s freedom too much, then you pay.”
Some citizens, who’ve seen the fallout from Trump’s tweets, may be wondering: What damage has a Trump presidency done to the U.S.’s diplomatic aims in China, which go far beyond promoting American values? One could argue that he missed an opportunity to advocate on behalf of the U.S. business community—a key constituency—for the loosening of protectionist measures that shut U.S. investors out of whole sectors of the Chinese economy. He seems unlikely to use his bully pulpit to challenge China’s excessive maritime claims in the South and East China Seas. And now, increasingly petulant that his bromance with Xi hasn’t gone as planned, Trump seems poised to launch a trade war with China, a move that could hurt some sectors of American business, notably agriculture and airlines, as much as it would help others.
No one denies that the U.S.-China playing field is out of level and needs to be re-balanced. But with Trump daily eroding American influence, our ability to counterbalance growing Chinese wealth and power is melting away like a block of ice in the hot sun. The question isn’t simply whether Trump has changed the U.S.-China dynamic (though he has not helped it), but how is China going to re-write the rules? When Xi first ascended to the top of China’s leadership pyramid, in 2012, one of the first things he did was declare “the China Dream,” an expression of his own deep desire to see China restored to greatness. It was also an invitation for China to take a much more active, even aggressive, stance in the world, sometimes even to economically browbeat neighbors or provoke the U.S. and its allies. Xi’s quest for greatness has also led to aggressive expansionism (see the aforementioned South and East China Seas), and a more unyielding posture toward the U.S. and everything for which it has traditionally stood. It has tarred the Western media, civil society, academic freedom, and other liberal ideas as “hostile foreign forces” while unapologetically denying visas to American scholars, journalists, and others whom it finds politically unsavory.
Xi is unabashed in his belief that China will emerge not only as the world’s biggest economy, but as its de facto leader. At his recent 19th Party Congress, he proudly declared that China was globally moving ever “closer to center stage.” While Beijing is selective in its battles and did join in another round of United Nations sanctions against North Korea just before Christmas, Xi is unwilling—and perhaps even unable—to exert the kind of pressure that might actually bring North Korea to heel.
Can the U.S.-China relationship be saved? Sadly, the one area where the two countries were once actively cooperating, namely on climate change, has now been unceremoniously abandoned by Washington, leaving the U.S.-China arch deprived of any keystone feature emphasizing cooperation. Perversely, North Korea’s nuclearization has long presented a perfect joint project for the U.S. and China because we are both manifestly threatened by North Korean nuclear weapons.
These global challenges and others—terrorism and cybercrime, to name a few others—are only worsening, and the world would benefit tremendously if the U.S. and China could find a way to be more collaborative. Alas, Trump’s unpredictability and Xi’s authoritarianism render hope of such collaboration increasingly unlikely. When it comes to formulating sensible policy with this most crucial of nations, the U.S. not only has a China problem, it has a Trump problem. Beleaguered U.S. diplomats now confront a paradox: the impediments to finding a workable China policy remain as much in Washington as Beijing.

The Ramapo Fault Of The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

Earthquake activity in the New York City area
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Although the eastern United States is not as seismically active as regions near plate boundaries, large and damaging earthquakes do occur there. Furthermore, when these rare eastern U.S. earthquakes occur, the areas affected by them are much larger than for western U.S. earthquakes of the same magnitude.[1] Thus, earthquakes represent at least a moderate hazard to East Coast cities, including New York City and adjacent areas of very high population density.

As can be seen in the maps of earthquake activity in this region, seismicity is scattered throughout most of the New York City area, with some hint of a concentration of earthquakes in the area surrounding Manhattan Island. The largest known earthquake in this region occurred in 1884 and had a magnitude of approximately 5. For this earthquake, observations of fallen bricks and cracked plaster were reported from eastern Pennsylvania to central Connecticut, and the maximum intensity reported was at two sites in western Long Island (Jamaica, New York and Amityville, New York). Two other earthquakes of approximately magnitude 5 occurred in this region in 1737 and 1783.[2][3][4] The figure on the right shows maps of the distribution of earthquakes of magnitude 3 and greater that occurred in this region from 1924 to 2010, along with locations of the larger earthquakes that occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884.

The NYC area is part of the geologically complex structure of the Northern Appalachian Mountains. This complex structure was formed during the past half billion years when the Earth’s crust underlying the Northern Appalachians was the site of two major geological episodes, each of which has left its imprint on the NYC area bedrock.[5][6] Between about 450 million years ago and about 250 million years ago, the Northern Appalachian region was affected by a continental collision, in which the ancient African continent collided with the ancient North American continent to form the supercontinent Pangaea. Beginning about 200 million years ago, the present-day Atlantic ocean began to form as plate tectonic forces began to rift apart the continent of Pangaea. The last major episode of geological activity to affect the bedrock in the New York area occurred about 100 million years ago, during the Mesozoic era, when continental rifting that led to the opening of the present-day Atlantic ocean formed the Hartford and Newark Mesozoic rift basins.

Earthquake rates in the northeastern United States are about 50 to 200 times lower than in California, but the earthquakes that do occur in the northeastern U.S. are typically felt over a much broader region than earthquakes of the same magnitude in the western U.S.[1] This means the area of damage from an earthquake in the northeastern U.S. could be larger than the area of damage caused by an earthquake of the same magnitude in the western U.S.[7] The cooler rocks in the northeastern U.S. contribute to the seismic energy propagating as much as ten times further than in the warmer rocks of California. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt as far as 100 km (60 mi) from its epicenter, but it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake, although uncommon, can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from its epicenter, and can cause damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi) from its epicenter. Earthquakes stronger than about magnitude 5.0 generate ground motions that are strong enough to be damaging in the epicentral area.

At well-studied plate boundaries like the San Andreas fault system in California, scientists can often make observations that allow them to identify the specific fault on which an earthquake took place. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case.[8] The NYC area is far from the boundaries of the North American plate, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean Sea, and along the west coast of North America. The seismicity of the northeastern U.S. is generally considered to be due to ancient zones of weakness that are being reactivated in the present-day stress field. In this model, pre-existing faults that were formed during ancient geological episodes persist in the intraplate crust, and the earthquakes occur when the present-day stress is released along these zones of weakness. The stress that causes the earthquakes is generally considered to be derived from present-day rifting at the Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Earthquakes and geologically mapped faults in the Northeastern U.S.

The northeastern U.S. has many known faults, but virtually all of the known faults have not been active for perhaps 90 million years or more. Also, the locations of the known faults are not well determined at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few (if any) earthquakes in the region can be unambiguously linked to known faults. Given the current geological and seismological data, it is difficult to determine if a known fault in this region is still active today and could produce a modern earthquake. As in most other areas east of the Rocky Mountains, the best guide to earthquake hazard in the northeastern U.S. is probably the locations of the past earthquakes themselves.[9]

The Ramapo fault and other New York City area faults

The Ramapo Fault, which marks the western boundary of the Newark rift basin, has been argued to be a major seismically active feature of this region,[10] but it is difficult to discern the extent to which the Ramapo fault (or any other specific mapped fault in the area) might be any more of a source of future earthquakes than any other parts of the region.[11] The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east.[12] This fault is perhaps the best known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and some small earthquakes have been known to occur in its vicinity. Recently, public knowledge about the fault has increased – especially after the 1970s, when the fault’s proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York was noticed.
There is insufficient evidence to unequivocally demonstrate any strong correlation of earthquakes in the New York City area with specific faults or other geologic structures in this region. The damaging earthquake affecting New York City in 1884 was probably not associated with the Ramapo fault because the strongest shaking from that earthquake occurred on Long Island (quite far from the trace of the Ramapo fault). The relationship between faults and earthquakes in the New York City area is currently understood to be more complex than any simple association of a specific earthquake with a specific mapped fault.[13]

A 2008 study argued that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake might originate from the Ramapo fault zone,[3] which would almost definitely spawn hundreds or even thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage.[14] Studying around 400 earthquakes over the past 300 years, the study also argued that there was an additional fault zone extending from the Ramapo Fault zone into southwestern Connecticut. As can be seen in the above figure of seismicity, earthquakes are scattered throughout this region, with no particular concentration of activity along the Ramapo fault, or along the hypothesized fault zone extending into southwestern Connecticut.[2][11][15]

Just off the northern terminus of the Ramapo fault is the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, built between 1956 and 1960 by Consolidated Edison Company. The plant began operating in 1963, and it has been the subject of a controversy over concerns that an earthquake from the Ramapo fault will affect the power plant. Whether or not the Ramapo fault actually does pose a threat to this nuclear power plant remains an open question.[11]

Babylon the Great’s Scary Nuclear Policy

Pentagon’s proposed nuclear strategy elevates cyberattacks to a terrifying new realm
By Sasha Lekach
Image: shutterstock/Macrovector
It's the fall of 2019 and America is paralyzed.
A wave of cyberattacks have crippled America's banks, sent a blackout rolling across the East Coast, and disabled almost all U.S. internet infrastructure.
America's response is nuclear. A submarine off the coast of North Korea launches ballistic missiles at the tiny, reclusive country, marking the first use of nuclear weapons in battle since 1945. In response, China and Russia prepare for war, and the world watches as an all-out nuclear exchange is suddenly a very real proposition.
This scenario, previously impossible, would be just one of the many that the U.S. government would have to prepare for under the Pentagon's new proposals for how to respond to cyberattacks.
The recently released draft of the Pentagon's proposed nuclear strategy shows an administration bullish on nuclear weapons — even for "non-nuclear" attacks like a cyberattack or hack. This is the first time a U.S. administration has sought to enshrine in policy that cyberattacks against America could result in nuclear war.
This is the first time a U.S. administration has sought to enshrine in policy that cyberattacks against America could result in nuclear war.
Experts warn this is a dangerous, slippery slope toward a nuclear exchange that, once started, is difficult to limit or stop.
Richard A. Clarke, former national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counter-terrorism under President George W. Bush, said the proposed policy is, in a word, insane.
"I think it’s cavalier to expand the concept of nuclear weapons use," he said. "It’s insane, actually."
Clarke was quick to point out that cyberattacks can never match the potential fatalities of a nuclear bomb.
"I think there is a very dangerous policy move to expand the scope of things that would allow us to use nuclear weapons," he said. "Nuclear weapons is a last resort — not something we should contemplate doing unless we absolutely have to."
On a strategic level it's also flawed, he said. It's too dangerous — the effects of nuclear winter are no joke — and it's not credible to believe the U.S. would respond to something like an infrastructure attack with nukes.
"It just makes no sense whatsoever," Clarke said.
Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshare Fund, called the proposed strategy plans "absurd." In a phone call, the anti-nuclear advocate said a nuclear response would be disproportionate to the threat of a cyberattack.
"Under this policy, the Trump administration would feel justified in using nuclear weapons on (Russia meddling in the election)," he said.
One part that stood out of the draft report, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, first published in a non-classified form on The Huffington Post, was the mention of "significant non-nuclear strategic attacks." This seems to imply that the U.S. could retaliate with nukes against an attack on U.S. infrastructure, such as the power system.
Other methods of retaliation would still be considered, but this is the first time cyberattacks would trigger a nuclear response, as The NewYork Times reported.
The prospect of using nuclear weapons against a cyberattack appears extreme but also highlights just how seriously some experts are taking the prospect of modern cyberwar.
Cirincione said cyberattacks can be extremely dangerous, but hacks on systems controlling trains, dams or power supplies don't warrant this response. He sees the plan as an attempt to justify more use of nuclear weapons.
"If the only tool you have is a nuclear weapon, every mission is a massive threat," he said.
Jeffrey Knopf, professor of nonproliferation and terrorism studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, said in a phone call the proposal is a terrible idea that's "an excuse to keep and build new nuclear weapons."
"Nuclear taboo" has kept nations from nuking each other for decades, but with this plan the U.S. is willing to break that over something like a cyberattack, Knopf said.
This proposal is also telling about the administration's struggles to deter cyberwarfare. The Pentagon is essentially "throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks," Knopf said.
The White House is still reviewing the strategy and a final version isn't expected for several weeks. The leaked version may change in coming weeks, and ultimately the review is a "wish list," as Knopf called it. For real policy changes to actually come from the updated nuclear guidance, Congress would need to pass budgets and funding. It's not a quick path to implementation.
Clarke, the former White House cybersecurity czar, can't fathom how the Trump administration is using cybersecurity for nuclear justification. He says over the years this type of policy has been "rejected by everyone except the lunatic fringe."
Maybe so, but like on many policy issues these days, it seems the lunatic fringe has crept into mainstream thinking.

Military Escalations Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Four killed as India, Pakistan trade fire along LoC
The Nation
SRINAGAR: Tensions escalated along LoC Saturday as a soldier and three civilians were killed in cross-border firing by the Indian and Pakistani armies, officials from the two countries said.
The latest wave of violence this week has left at least 21 dead, including soldiers, suspected militants and civilians on both sides of the heavily-militarised border that divides the disputed Himalayan region.
Indian Army spokesman Colonel N.N. Joshi said one of their soldiers was killed Saturday by Pakistani fire in Poonch sector along the de facto border, the Line of Control (LoC).
Two civilians, including a 15-year-old boy, were killed in a separate cross border assault along a stretch of uncontested frontier between Kashmir and Sialkot, director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid told AFP.
Pakistan 's foreign office in a statement said Saturday a 60-year-old civilian was killed and two others including a six-year-old were injured in firing by Indian soldiers.
Four civilians had died in the firing during the previous two days, the statement added.
Both sides regularly trade fire along the border, parts of which are disputed, and civilian casualties are common.
But this week has been particularly bloody.
Pakistan said four of its soldiers were martyred in Indian firing on Monday.
Earlier this week Indian soldiers also killed five suspected militants who they said were trying to infiltrate from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The latest deaths come a day after two Indian soldiers and two civilians were killed Friday when mortars fired by Pakistani soldiers landed in populated areas along the border in R S Pura area.
India and Pakistan on Friday summoned each other's diplomats to register protests over the killings with both accusing the other of initiating the cross-border fire.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Pakistani and Iranian Horns Align (Daniel 8:8)

SURPRISE! The United States Lacks A Strategy For Iran’s Marriage Of Convenience With Pakistan
Lawrence Sellin
Shutterstock/Sutagon Rodruangrid, Shuttetstock/esfera
Sometimes it is the small, unreported events that provide interesting signs of a larger agenda in play.
In recent days, on-the-ground sources claim that an Iranian of the Baloch ethnic group, who had been previously arrested by Iranian authorities, was abducted in the Jiwani area of Pakistan and presumably returned to Iran.
On January 12, Iran lauded the seizure of explosives and communications equipment allegedly belonging to a splinter group of the virulently anti-Shia Jundallah for whom Pakistan has allegedly been a safe haven.
The public affairs department of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force’s Quds Base claimed: “The brave combatants of IRGC Ground Forces and other security and law enforcement personnel, with intelligence superiority and all-encompassing preparation in border regions, will monitor and foil all plots by terrorist groups and the mercenaries of the Iranian nation’s enemies.”
That operation, which took place in the Saravan region, a known cross-border transit point, may have been less brilliant than advertised, being a consequence of information supplied by Pakistan.
In December, an Iranian diplomat said, “that military and intelligence cooperation have deepened greatly in the past few months as officials from the security establishments on either side of the border speak to each other more often,” confirming secret security-related meetings between Iran and Pakistan, which occurred earlier in 2017 along their common border.
In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of official announcements regarding Iran-Pakistan rapprochement in trade, defense, weapons development, counterterrorism, banking, train service and parliamentary cooperation.
The larger agenda was described this week by Pakistan’s Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani while addressing 13th session of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries in Tehran:
“There is a changing world scenario in which a nexus among the US, Israeli and India is emerging and the Ummah (Muslim world) needs unity to deal with this because today it is Pakistan and Iran tomorrow it can be any other country.”
Pakistan sees China as the rising global superpower and now feels comfortable discarding any pretense regarding its faux cooperation with the United States.
“We do not have any alliance,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, according to a January 5 Wall Street Journal article.
In Afghanistan, American and Pakistani interests have always collided. Pakistan doesn’t want the U.S. to win in Afghanistan; instead, it wants a client state as strategic depth against its archrival, India. The U.S., on the other hand, wants a stable, independent, democratic and terrorist-free Afghanistan.
The Iranian regime, under pressure both internally and externally and desperately seeking friends, has decided to play the “Islam card,” with Pakistan. Iran seeks means of opposing U.S. and Saudi moves in the Middle East, to eliminate any Saudi-funded anti-Shia insurgents on its eastern border and work with Pakistan to suppress Baloch ethnic separatism in its southeastern province.
Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami recently said that by enhancing regional cooperation Pakistan and Iran could “counter interfering policies of certain trans-regional powers,” undoubtedly meaning the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan seeks Iranian assistance to help ease the U.S. out of Afghanistan and, thereby, permanently block any Indian influence in that country. The narrative buttressing that effort was just previewed by former Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbini Khar in a CNN interview:
“I am increasingly starting to believe that the presence of the USA in Afghanistan is not for peace and stability…but to create chaos in this region so that Russia and China and many other Central Asian republics, together with Iran perhaps, can be contained…the more I see how the Afghan war is being fought, the more I believe this is happening.”
Not surprisingly, China has offered to mediate peace in Afghanistan and invited the Afghans to join the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, both of which would contribute to its aim of regional hegemony.
Iranian-Pakistani collaboration is not a new phenomenon. Pakistan transferred nuclear technology to Iran in the 1980s. Although we have been down this road before, the U.S. does not appear to have a strategy to address a major ongoing geopolitical shift.
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. He receives email at

Authorities Expecting The Sixth Seal? (Revelation 6:12) Raises Threat of Quake but Lowers Risk for Towers

New York Times


Here is another reason to buy a mega-million-dollar apartment in a Manhattan high-rise: Earthquake forecast maps for New York City that a federal agency issued on Thursday indicate “a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought.”
The agency, the United States Geodetic Survey, tempered its latest quake prediction with a big caveat.
“The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,” the agency said, citing the magnitude 5.8 quake that struck Virginia in 2011.
Federal seismologists based their projections of a lower hazard for tall buildings — “but still a hazard nonetheless,” they cautioned — on a lower likelihood of slow shaking from an earthquake occurring near the city, the type of shaking that typically causes more damage to taller structures.
“The tall buildings in Manhattan are not where you should be focusing,” said John Armbruster, a seismologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “They resonate with long period waves. They are designed and engineered to ride out an earthquake. Where you should really be worried in New York City is the common brownstone and apartment building and buildings that are poorly maintained.”
Mr. Armbruster was not involved in the federal forecast, but was an author of an earlier study that suggested that “a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed.”
He noted that barely a day goes by without a New York City building’s being declared unsafe, without an earthquake. “If you had 30, 40, 50 at one time, responders would be overloaded,” he said.
The city does have an earthquake building code that went into effect in 1996, and that applies primarily to new construction.
A well-maintained building would probably survive a magnitude 5 earthquake fairly well, he said. The last magnitude 5 earthquake in the city struck in 1884. Another is not necessarily inevitable; faults are more random and move more slowly than they do in, say, California. But he said the latest federal estimate was probably raised because of the magnitude of the Virginia quake.
“Could there be a magnitude 6 in New York?” Mr. Armbruster said. “In Virginia, in a 300 year history, 4.8 was the biggest, and then you have a 5.8. So in New York, I wouldn’t say a 6 is impossible.”
Mr. Armbruster said the Geodetic Survey forecast would not affect his daily lifestyle. “I live in a wood-frame building with a brick chimney and I’m not alarmed sitting up at night worried about it,” he said. “But society’s leaders need to take some responsibility.”

India's New ICBM Threatens Pakistan

India test-fires missile amid perceived threats from China, Pakistan
By Reuters
NEW DELHI — India tested its longest-range intercontinental missile on Thursday, the defense ministry said, part of efforts to build a nuclear deterrent against neighboring Pakistan and China.
The 3,107-mile range Agni missile was tested from an island in India’s eastern coast in the Bay of Bengal, the ministry said on its official Twitter account.
It said the launch was “a major boost to the defense capabilities” of India.
The Agni-V is an advanced version of the indigenously built Agni, or Fire, series, part of a programme that started in the 1980s. It has been tested previously before.
New Delhi says it faces a twin threat from both bitter foe Pakistan, which is developing a nuclear and missile programme of its own, as well as China. A long-running dispute over the Himalayan border with China has flared in recent years.

Iran’s Hegemony in Palestine (Daniel 8:4)

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior member of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said Chairman of Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh’s letter to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei proves that the resistance movement in the Gaza Strip has strategic ties with Iran.
Tasnim News Agency
اسماعیل رضوان عضو ارشد حماس
“This Letter is indicative of Hamas’ strategic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ismail Rizwan told Tasnim.
“This Letter will (further) strengthen the relations,” he added.
In the letter, Haniyeh praised Iran’s role in supporting the resistance on behalf of Hamas and the Palestinian people, Rizwan added.
Elsewhere, commenting on Palestinians’ roadmap to countering the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem (al-Quds) as capital of Israel, he said it should be based on boosting resistance and defending Quds.
The Hamas official urged unity among all the Palestinian groups and ending security cooperation with the Zionist regime.
In his letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, the chairman of Hamas Political Bureau praised the Iranian nation and leadership for supporting Palestine and the anti-Israeli axis of resistance.
Haniyeh pointed to a major plot that the arrogant powers have hatched against Quds and the Palestinian nation with the purpose of wiping out the Gaza Strip as the bastion of resistance, ending the fight against the Zionist regime, and normalizing the relations between Israel and the dependent rulers of regional countries.
He also praised the popular Intifada (uprising) in the West Bank and the city Quds as a phenomenon foiling the plots by the US and the “rulers of hypocrisy” who seek to terminate the issue of Palestine.
Hailing Iran as a stable and resisting nation that has stood against arrogance, Haniyeh expressed gratitude to Imam Khamenei and the Iranian nation for providing the popular Palestinian resistance movement with various kinds of support.
Denouncing the blockade of Gaza and the economic and medical embargo on Palestinian people in the coastal enclave with the aim of creating a humanitarian crisis and undermining the main bastion of resistance, Haniyeh said Washington is trying to put an end to the Palestinian fight against the Israeli regime.
In that case, he added, the rulers impatient to appease the US and Israel could normalize and make public their ties with the Zionist regime, and then the hostile ploys could be targeted on Iran.
Haniyeh also highlighted the significant role of Ayatollah Khamenei in leading the efforts to counter a project on termination of the Palestinian issue.
Iran, under expert guidance of Ayatollah Khamenei, has played and keeps playing a major role in strengthening the Palestinian resistance, he added.
The Hamas official finally refereed to the massive Intifada in the West Bank and Quds as the practical approach to thwarting the new plot against Palestine in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s move to harm the religious nature of Palestine by recognizing Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime.

The Tactics of the Coming Nuclear War (Rev 15)

Return of tactical nuclear weapons would send a dangerous signal
Pentagon finishing US nuclear review
Daniel M. Gerstein works at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and is an adjunct professor at American University. He was the undersecretary (acting) and deputy undersecretary in the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security from 2011-2014 and the principal director for counter weapons of mass destruction in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy) from 2009-2011. The views expressed are his own.
(CNN)President Trump traveled to the Pentagon on Thursday to discuss the National Defense Strategy, an unclassified version of which will be released Friday. Undoubtedly, key topics of discussion on the new strategy included the proliferation of nuclear weapons and missile technology, and the need for the protection of space assets essential to providing early warning in the event of a nuclear attack.
Over the next couple of weeks, the Nuclear Posture Review will be released. Taken together, these documents will shape the US nuclear defense policy over the course of the administration and likely usher in significant changes. One of those changes could come on the question of low-yield nuclear weapons, or those weapons most likely to employed on the battlefield. These weapons are smaller, less destructive and have shorter ranges than strategic nuclear weapons -- though the death and destruction they cause could still mean substantial casualties.
Recent reports indicate possible US and Russian expansion of nonstrategic nuclear weapons' capabilities, or those weapons developed for battlefield military uses. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon is planning new nuclear weapons, including a "low yield" warhead, with a view to countering Russia and China.
Nobel laureate: There is one way to prevent nuclear war
For the US, such actions would represent a major change in policy, while for Russia, it would mean a continuation of ongoing force modernization, doctrinal changes and military exercises that regularly feature nuclear weapons such as limited-use options for warfighting and escalation control.
The Nuclear Posture Review -- like those issued by the three previous administrations -- will likely reaffirm the necessity of ensuring the US deterrence remains viable and the capability to develop and field nuclear warheads. However, the return of tactical nuclear weapons to the US arsenal for the first time since the end of the Cold War would be a significant change.
From the Cold War to today, Russia has maintained strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons. The only category of nuclear-capable forces that neither the U.S. nor Russia have maintained were the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) -- with ranges of 500 km to 5,500 km -- that were eliminated as part of the 1987 INF Treaty. However, the Russians have recently developed a ground-launched cruise missile that the US believes violates the INF Treaty.
Experts make compelling cases for developing low-yield nuclear weapons on both sides of the argument. Yet, judging the costs and benefits of such a policy reversal comes down to a matter of perspective and largely depends on where one begins in approaching the question, whether from a warfighting, deterrence or nonproliferation perspective.
From the perspective of warfighting, reintroduction of nonstrategic nuclear weapons provides another powerful tool to the arsenal. Lower yields provide a nuclear capability that is more likely to be incorporated into a conflict. Certain missions -- striking deeply buried targets like command bunkers -- call for nuclear weapons to increase the probability of destruction of these targets.
Naysayers make the case that the conventional arsenals of both nations are more than adequate to attack complex targets with a reasonable surety of destruction. During the Cold War, lower-yield weapons provided a measure of deterrence by linking the battlefield and strategic nuclear capabilities and providing an offset to the perceived Soviet advantage in conventional forces in Europe. Ominously, the Russians have already begun to incorporate these systems into their warfighting plans, something the US halted following the Cold War.
Nuclear weapons provide unique opportunities for deterrence, perhaps discouraging an adversary's action due to the fear of the consequences and the potential escalation that could raise the stakes of conflict.
The theory has been that two nuclear nations had to exercise greater caution before entering into a conflict, as controlling escalation or blundering into a strategic nuclear engagement was always a possibility.
With the reintroduction of these weapons, a nation could use them to escalate the conflict, demonstrate a willingness to continue to escalate, and seek to cause the adversary to terminate the conflict on less favorable conditions (the Russian doctrine of "escalate to de-escalate"). However, it is also possible the use of these weapons could be misinterpreted and result in escalation to a strategic nuclear exchange, with potentially devastating consequences
If one approaches the policy change from a nonproliferation perspective, the outcomes are uniformly negative. Incorporating tactical nuclear weapons into America's military planning would undermine 65 years of nonproliferation that goes back to President Eisenhower's 1953 "Atoms for Peace" speech, which sought to share the benefits of atomic power while containing the risks, and the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and associated technologies.
Ultimately, the goal has been to lessen the likelihood that nuclear weapons will continue to proliferate to other nations. Despite these efforts, nine nations today have nuclear weapons -- the US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. Others such as Japan and South Korea have demonstrated mastery of the technical components of a nuclear weapons program, but have not developed such weapons. Still others such as Syria and Iran have been "dissuaded" from developing these weapons.
Developing low-yield nuclear weapons, establishing a doctrine for their use and incorporating them into military exercises sends a dangerous signal that nuclear warfighting is just one more capability in the toolkit.
The cases of Pakistan and North Korea demonstrate how fragile these nonproliferation regimes can be. The recent rapid enhancements to the North Korean nuclear and missile program provides ample evidence of how challenging it is to prevent global proliferation.
Heated rhetoric about nuclear weapons use, modernization of stockpiles and changes to extended deterrence could undermine nonproliferation programs. Heading "back to the future" through the development of low-yield nuclear weapons could make nonproliferation goals more difficult to achieve. At the same time, it could signal a new willingness to consider these weapons as part of a spectrum of warfighting capabilities, rather than as a necessary component of the US deterrence posture.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Quakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal

Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Roger Bilham

Given recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.
Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.
Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.
She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.
Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.
Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.
In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.
The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.
“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.
Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.
What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses. Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.

Nuclear Plant Still Open Before the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

CORTLANDT, NY — A strike at the Indian Point nuclear power plant continues to be averted, for now. Negotiators agreed before midnight Thursday to continue talks.
The workers in had initially voted to strike when the contract expired, at midnight Wednesday, and then both sides agreed to a 24-hour extension for negotiations.
As of Friday morning, a union described an agreed-to break in the talks. He also used the occasion to aim some barbs at Entergy, the owner of the plant.
"The Union was ready to go but management needed some beauty sleep, while its appointed "negotiators" and their overlords in Louisiana ignore the impact of their inaction on the fate of the working men and women who safely operate and maintain a nuclear power plant and on the communities they serve in New York State," Local 1-2 President James T. Slevin said early Friday morning in a press release. "I guess in Entergy's case, it's management is more concerned with its own comfort than resolving the problems it has caused by its attacks on the welfare of Entergy's own employees. For our part, Local 1-2 is used to working round the clock and was prepared to do so tonight."
Slevin said he hoped and expected that talks would resume later Friday.
An Entergy spokesman said only that negotiations were continuing.
Indian Point, which provides up to a quarter of the electricity for New York City and Westchester County, will cease operations in 2021 under an agreement reached a year ago between Entergy and the principal forces seeking its closure, New York State and environmental watchdog Riverkeeper.
The union represents operations, radiation protection, chemistry and maintenance workers at the plant. It is seeking a new contract through 2022. One of its goals is to keep the experienced nuclear plant workers on hand during the shutdown process.

Australia The Next Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

A heavyweight trio of Australia’s strategic and defense policy analysts has opened a debate on the possibility of Australia acquiring nuclear weapons. Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith documented the increased strategic risk to Australia based on a critical assessment of China’s capabilities, motives and intent.
Paul took that further in The Australian, canvassing the idea of investing in capabilities that would reduce the lead time for getting the bomb to give us more options for dealing with growing strategic uncertainty. North Korea’s nuclear advances and diminishing confidence in the dependability of US extended nuclear deterrence add to the sense of strategic unease.
Andrew Davies inferred Hugh White’s support for the idea and implied that both Paul and Hugh had been too coy to take their analyses to the logical conclusion. Hugh has been the preeminent Australian analyst advocating an independent recalibration of our position vis‑à‑vis the China–US tussle for strategic primacy in the Asia–Pacific.
In reply, Hugh politely, gently but firmly rejected the implication that he’s a closet supporter of Australia taking the nuclear weapon path. He neither advocates nor predicts that Australia should or will go nuclear. He professes uncertainty about the role of nuclear weapons in shaping Asia’s emerging strategic landscape, highlights the importance of getting the decisions right on conventional capabilities first, and points to the choices and trade-offs that would then have to be made between the security benefits and risks of a weaponized nuclear capability.
Who will call out the nuclear emperor for being naked? Nuclear weapons haven’t been used since 1945—Hiroshima was the first time and Nagasaki the last. Their very destructiveness makes them qualitatively different in political and moral terms, to the point of rendering them unusable. A calculated use of the bomb is less likely than one resulting from system malfunction, faulty information or rogue launch.
On the other hand, the non-trivial risks of inadvertent use mean that the world’s very existence is hostage to indefinite continuance of the same good fortune that has ensured no use since 1945.
Curiously, Hugh, Paul and Andrew don’t explore the roles that nuclear weapons might play, the functions they would perform, and the circumstances and conditions in which those roles and functions would prove effective. This is a crucial omission. The arguments I canvassed in a review of the illusory gains and lasting insecurities of India’s nuclear weapon acquisition apply with equal force to Australia, albeit with appropriate modifications for our circumstances.
In short, the nuclear equation just does not compute for Australia.
Consistent with the moral taint associated with the bomb, the most common justification for getting or keeping nuclear weapons isn’t that we’d want to use them against anyone else. We’d only want them either to avert nuclear blackmail or to deter an attack. Neither of those arguments holds up against the historical record or in logic.
The belief in the coercive utility of nuclear weapons is widely internalised, owing in no small measure to Japan’s surrender immediately after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet the evidence is surprisingly clear that the close chronology is a coincidence. In Japanese decision-makers’ minds, the decisive factor in their unconditional surrender was the entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific war against Japan’s essentially undefended northern approaches, and the fear that the Soviets would be the occupying power unless Japan surrendered to the US first. Hiroshima was bombed on 6 August 1945, Nagasaki on 9 August. Moscow broke its neutrality pact to attack Japan on 9 August and Tokyo announced the surrender on 15 August.
There’s been no clear-cut instance since then of a non-nuclear state having been bullied into changing its behaviour by the overt or implicit threat of being bombed by nuclear weapons.

Tensions Increase Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir - Two civilians and an Indian soldier were killed and twenty more wounded in the latest ceasefire violations in the border villages of Jammu region in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said.
State police Chief Shesh Paul Vaid told Al Jazeera that the two civilians, including a 52-year-old woman, were killed in fresh shelling by Pakistani side in RS Pura sector in Jammu region on Friday morning.
"One Border Security Force (BSF) trooper has also been killed in the shelling which continues since night," Vaid said, adding that twenty civilians were also wounded.
On Thursday, an Indian soldier and a 17-year-old girl were killed in RS Pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu region, officials said, taking the death toll to five in twenty-four hours from the Indian-side.
Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), the military demarcation between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
India regularly accuses Pakistan of aiding fighters in crossing the LoC to attack Indian targets. Pakistani has been denying the charges.
Since Friday morning, the soldiers of two countries traded heavy gunfire in RS Pura and Ramgarh sectors along the border, officials said, amid the growing tensions between the two neighbours.
"The heavy shelling started from Pakistani side at night," one official told Aljazeera.
An official said that Pakistani troopers violated ceasefire by resorting to indiscriminate firing at Indian positions in several sectors of the border. The fresh tension on the border has caused further turbulence in the relations between India and Pakistan.
This is the third exchange of fire between the two countries in this sector in past three days, officials said.
The Jammu and Kashmir police in a statement said that Indian forces are retaliating to the firing from Pakistan.
Following the latest shelling, the officials said that the schools in the area were closed.
The latest exchange of fire started after Pakistan accused Indian forces of killing four of their soldiers near the de facto border.
Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), the military demarcation between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
India regularly accuses Pakistan of aiding fighters in crossing the LoC to attack Indian targets. Pakistan has denied the charges.
The hostilities increased between India and Pakistan since December last year after both accused each other of killing soldiers on either side.
In September 2016, India claimed to have launched "surgical strikes" on bases used by armed groups in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to fight Indian security forces. Pakistan denied any Indian soldiers were ever on Pakistan-administered soil.
Since independence in 1947, the two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which both countries claim in full.
The LoC has remained volatile in the last year. According to official figures, 860 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were reported in 2017, compared with 221 the year before.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir's mostly Muslim population, and most support the rebels' cause against Indian rule, despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight dissent.
Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Indian-administered portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. India maintains roughly 500,000 soldiers in the territory.

How Trump Will Exit the Iran Deal
Iran deal won't survive beyond May 2018, sanctions expert says
Natasha Turak
The Iran nuclear deal is on life support and on a trajectory for collapse, many policy experts believe, despite U.S. President Donald Trump's current continuation of sanctions relief.
Trump agreed to waive sanctions on the Islamic Republic in mid-January as part of the 2015 nuclear pact, but pledged that this time it was the country's "last chance", threatening a U.S. walkout.
"I am very concerned that it will not survive May 2018. Mr. Trump has set an unreasonable list of demands out that I do not think any realistic European or Congressional agreement could satisfy," Richard Nephew, program director at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, told CNBC. Nephew served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. State Department negotiating with Iran from 2013 to 2014.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by all five United Nations Security Council members and Germany in 2015, allowed the lifting of international sanctions on Iran in exchange for compliance with restrictions on its nuclear program. The U.S. president is required to recertify it every 90 days or leave its fate to Congress.
While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified Iran's compliance, Trump continues to deride the agreement, calling for more sanctions on the Islamic Republic particularly for its ballistic missile program and human rights abuses, which were not part of the JCPOA. Trump announced on January 12 that if Congress and the deal's European signatories did not fix the deal's "disastrous flaws", the U.S. would withdraw.
"The simple reality is that Trump hates the JCPOA even as he doesn't understand it," Nephew said. "And though his advisors are attempting to get him to think about it more pragmatically, their perennial struggles don't auger well for its survival."
President Donald Trump vowed to end the Iran Nuclear Deal while on the campaign trail. He has continued to criticize Iran as president, though he has refrained from condemning Russia, although both countries support Syria's Bashar al-Assad.
Trump's demands would require altering the original parameters of the deal. They include adding punitive measures for missile tests and regional activity, and amending "sunset clauses" that currently allow certain conditions to expire after a number of years. EU leaders and Russia have urged the U.S. to respect the integrity of the original arrangement.
However the president may not like the deal, however, he cannot legally end it without consensus from its other signatories, notes Pat Thaker, regional director for the Middle East and Africa at the Economist Intelligence Unit. "None of [them] have shown real appetite for a renegotiation of its terms, and have instead lobbied Trump to keep it," she told CNBC. "This will not change."
National security community vs. Trump
Much of the diplomatic and national security community in Washington breathed a sigh of relief when Trump agreed to extend the deal on January 12. "It is the national security bureaucracy that ought to be credited," Nephew said, naming National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis as key figures who emphasized to Trump the risks inherent in dropping the JCPOA. "It addressed a very real problem in a very real and verifiable way, when we were looking in the face of either an Iranian nuclear weapon or war."
Critics of the deal disagree, arguing that continued economic relief only empowers the country's nuclear weapons pursuits and reward a regime that has ramped up its missile testing in recent months.
Newly-imposed U.S. sanctions unrelated to the deal target 14 individuals and groups in Iran's military and judiciary, and have little effect on the country's economy. But any moves to curtail economic relief for the country will kill the deal for the Iranians and prompt a comeback for hardline anti-western forces in government, analysts say. Nephew notes that any externally-imposed nuclear requirements, like a cap on the number of permitted uranium centrifuges or enriched uranium, could do this.
"If they challenge Iranian economic access, then I think they could very well contribute to hardline aggressiveness toward Rouhani, of which the JCPOA would be just an example."
Not all policy wonks have handed down such a negative prognosis. James Jeffrey, a former deputy national security adviser during the second Bush administration, told Politico the JCPOA can continue under Trump's new demands.
"Trump is leaving the door open to staying in the agreement if France, Germany and the UK work with Washington," he told the magazine.
Iran may also choose to stay in an effort to diplomatically isolate the U.S., said Ryan Turner, senior risk analyst at Protection Group International. But practically, he told CNBC, "the deal may collapse after that regardless." The current uncertainty alone will likely see many investors rethink their interest in Iran.
In mid-January, European leaders issued statements in defense of the agreement, with the EU's top diplomat saying it "made the world safer and prevented a potential nuclear arms race in the region."
Robert Litwak, director of international security studies at the Wilson Center and a member of Bill Clinton's National Security Council, said whether the deal would live or die past May is hard to say, but that the choice will be difficult and walking away has serious downsides.
"If the United States unilaterally withdraws from the nuclear deal it would isolate Washington," Liwak told CNBC. "It would change the dynamic from the United

Friday, January 19, 2018

Sixth Seal: New York City (Revelation 6:12)

(Source: US Geological Survey)
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.

Saudis Align with Babylon the Great (Daniel 7)

Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. PHOTO: AFP
By News Desk
Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said Saudi Arabia’s alliance with the United States (US) and Israel is “certainly a betrayal” of the Muslims, Al Jazeera reports.
Iran’s supreme leader made the comment at a conference attended by parliamentary representatives from Islamic countries on Tuesday, in Tehran, according to a statement published on his official website.
Talking about the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Khamenei said that the Holy City was “undoubtedly” the capital of Palestine, adding that Washington’s move “will not bear results”.
Khamenei also accused Saudi Arabia of helping the US and the “Zionists”.
“This is certainly a betrayal of the Islamic Ummah and the Muslim World. We are ready to act brotherly even with those among the Muslims who were once openly hostile to Iran,” he said.
“The world of Islam, with such a large population and plenty of facilities, can certainly create a great power within the world and become influential through unity.”
“The warmongering among the world of Islam must be stopped and we should not allow that a safe haven be created for the Zionist regime,” he added.
Saudis and Iran trade insults at conference on ‘positive agenda’
Regional rivals
Iran, a leading regional power, and Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, are dueling for influence in the Middle East, where they support opposing sides in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
US President Donald Trump said, on a visit to Jerusalem last year, that a shared concern about Iran was driving many Arab states closer to Israel.
An Israeli cabinet minister said in November that Israel had covert contacts with Saudi Arabia amid common concerns over Iran in a bid to increase pressure on the Tehran government.
This article originally appeared onAl Jazeera