Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Quakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


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.

Trump’s Business Sense Betrays Him

Trump Says He Would Meet With Iranian Leader, but Iran Rules It Out
By The New York Times0 : 44
“I’m Ready to Meet,” Trump Tells Iran
President Trump signaled his willingness to talk a week after threatening Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, on Twitter.
DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES
By Michael D. Shear and Rick Gladstone
July 30, 2018
WASHINGTON — President Trump, who walked away from a nuclear deal with Iran despite that country’s documented compliance, said Monday that he would meet with President Hassan Rouhani with “no preconditions” as soon as the Iranian leader agreed to do so.
But hours before Mr. Trump spoke, Iran said that talks with the United States would be impossible under what it called the Trump administration’s hostile policies, seeming to close the door on any chance of a dialogue.
Mr. Trump said at a White House news conference with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy that he was open to meeting with Iran.
“I’ll meet with anybody,” Mr. Trump said. “If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want.”
Mr. Trump compared the possibility of a face-to-face summit meeting with the Iranian leader to meetings he has held with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
“You meet,” Mr. Trump said. “There’s nothing wrong with meeting.”
But a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Rouhani anytime soon is exceedingly unlikely, especially given the anger among Iranian leaders over Mr. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from the nuclear deal that Iran negotiated over the course of several years with the Obama administration and five other nations. Bahram Qassemi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, made that clear on Monday during a news conference in Tehran.
“With current America and these policies, there will definitely not be the possibility of dialogue and engagement, and the United States has shown that it is totally unreliable,” Mr. Qassemi said at the news conference, which was carried by Iran’s state news media.
Given the American repudiation of the nuclear agreement and the restored sanctions, Mr. Qassemi said, “I think there are no conditions for such a discussion at all.”
Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear agreement with Iran and reimpose economic sanctions has been pummeling the value of Iran’s currency and raising the sense of economic crisis in the nation of 80 million. The currency, the rial, has lost half of its value in the past few months.
The Iranians remain a part of the nuclear deal with the other nations — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — giving them little reason to think that a meeting with Mr. Trump would be to its advantage. Last week on Twitter, Mr. Trump said threats from Iran would be met by “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
Mr. Trump followed up his tweet to Mr. Rouhani with an offer to engage Iran’s leaders in negotiations for new nuclear agreement that he described as a “real deal.”
The nuclear agreement, reached in 2015 by Iran, the United States and other major powers, eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities and Iran’s verifiable promises to never attain atomic weapons.
Mr. Trump has called the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a disaster that would not stop Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state. Iran has repeatedly denied that it will seek nuclear weapons.
The other parties to the agreement, including American allies in Europe, have said they want it to succeed. But few see such an outcome without the United States’ participation.
Even if the Iranian leadership was receptive to a meeting with Mr. Trump, the president’s national security team appears to be roundly opposed to the idea. In fact, advisers to the president have recently sounded more interested in hastening the end of the Iranian government.
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech in which he sided with the Iranian people against what he called the “hypocritical holy men” leading their country.
It was also unclear what Mr. Trump believes he could accomplish by meeting with Mr. Rouhani. He has railed against the government’s support of terrorism and has vowed — as have previous American presidents — to not allow Iran to ever fully develop a nuclear weapon.
At Monday’s news conference, Mr. Trump said that “the brutal regime in Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon — never.”
But in saying that he would meet with his counterpart in Iran “anytime,” the president vaguely added that he would do so only if “we could work something out that’s meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was.”
He did not elaborate on what that might be.
After Mr. Trump’s comments, Mr. Pompeo said that he supports the president’s desire to have a meeting with Mr. Rouhani and that Mr. Trump was focused on doing whatever was necessary “to solve problems.”
But unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Pompeo listed a series of preconditions that the Iranian leader would have to meet before such a meeting. Mr. Pompeo said that Mr. Rouhani would have to “demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation.”
If the Iranians could agree to those terms, Mr. Pompeo said, a meeting with Mr. Trump could be productive.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have intensified since Mr. Trump formally renounced the agreement in May. He has also warned other countries that under the restored sanctions, they must stop buying Iranian oil, the country’s most important export.
Iranian leaders have hinted that they might block international oil shipments from the Persian Gulf in retaliation.
Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Rick Gladstone from New York.

Is the Donald Preparing to Bomb Iran?


U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaks to the media at a press conference on the second day of the 2018 NATO Summit on July 12, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Trump Ready to Bomb Iran Within One Month: Australian Govt Sources
New reporting from Australia's ABC news comes amid warning that "Trump's reckless threats" should not be ignored
byAndrea Germanos, staff
Friday, July 27, 2018
Trump's White House is ready to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, unnamed "senior figures" within the Australian government said to ABC news.
According to the new reporting from the Australian news service, the strike could happen as early as next month, and Australia and the U.K.—both part of the "Five Eyes" spying alliance— could lend a hand in identifying targets, the reporting adds.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, for his part, dismissed the report, saying, "It's speculation, it is citing anonymous sources."
News of the alleged bombing preparation caps off a week President Donald Trump began with an all-caps tweet to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
"NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!" he tweeted, following Rouhani's warning for the U.S. not to "play with the lion's tail" and saying, "Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars."
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who played a key role in the 2015 nuclear deal Trump "recklessly" pulled out of, shot back with his own tweet, saying in part, "COLOR US UNIMPRESSED."
Trump did, however, tone down the rhetoric on Tuesday, saying, "We'll see what happens, but we're ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster."
Still, argues Trita Parsi, author of Losing an Enemy—Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy and the president of the National Iranian American Council, "Trump's reckless threats" should not be ignored.
"Going forward, the moderate voices inside the Trump White House will essentially be absent, while new advisers will likely egg on Trump to escalate tensions further—even though the Trump administration continues to claim that its goal is not regime change," he wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday at CNN.
"All of this amounts to a sobering reality," Parsi continued. "Trump is embarking on a path of escalation without having the exit ramps he had with North Korea. The danger now is not to overestimate the risk of war, but to underestimate it."

Antichrist Continues to Form New Iraqi Government

img_1895

Iraq coalition talks still under way amid election recount

https://players.brightcove.net/665003303001/4k5gFJHRe_default/index.html?videoId=5815235100001
Meanwhile, demonstrators in eight Iraqi provinces are demanding better access to water, electricity, and jobs.
by
 
Negotiations are still under way to form a governing coalition in Iraq.
No party won a majority during May's national election, and the result is not yet confirmed, because a manual recount was called over allegations of vote rigging. The parties trying to lead Iraq have major differences in their attitudes towards the United States and Iran.
But the big winner in Iraq's contested election is expected to be Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who confidently expects his party to lead the next government once the revised result has been confirmed by the country's Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, protests, which began in the oil-rich southern city of Basra in early July, have spread to eight Iraqi provinces, leading al-Sadr to call on all the winning lists of Iraq's May 12 parliamentary election to suspend government formation talks until the demands of protesters are met.
Al Jazeera's Imran Khan reports from Baghdad.

The Indian Nuclear Horn (Revelation 8)


According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) India has a stockpile of more than a 100 warheads. Its desire to match the nuclear warhead capabilities of China and Pakistan has prompted Indian planners to invest in a top secret project of establishing a nuclear city at Chellakere, Karnataka.
It had been exposed in 2012 that apart from many facilities, India has built the ‘secret nuclear city’. It was confirmed by independent researchers and Indian media that two secretive agencies were behind this project which is believed to be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic research laboratories, weapons and aircraft testing facilities.
New Delhi has generally kept all information pertaining to its nuclear capabilities under wraps. Whatever information on the Indian nuclear city of Chellakere is available, has been gleaned from international and Indian media reports.
As a military facility, it is not open to international inspection. Since 2009, organs of Indian government managed to discreetly acquire more than 10,000 acres of land in Chellakere. News leaked out, when the residents of the area, poor shepherds were deprived of grazing grounds for their cattle, filed a report in the court for the deprivation of their livelihood. Chellakeretaluk has been home to Amrit Mahal Kavals or grazing grounds, on which more than 250,000 goats, cows, bulls and sheep found food. About 300,000 people depended on these grounds for their source of revenue.
According to Raksha Kumar’s Op-Ed of May 18, 2018 in The News Minute, Srikumar Banerjee, the then chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission in 2011, spoke about the project obliquely. He stated that the facility would be used to produce nuclear fuel to boost India’s nuclear energy sources.
When the shepherds were barred from taking their cattle to the grazing grounds, the villagers filed a lawsuit at the Karnataka High Court demanding a complete accounting of the pasture land. To their dismay, they were informed by the state land registry that of the 10,000 acres, Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) had been allotted 4,290 acres, Indian Institute of Science (IIS) was given 1500 acres, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre had received 1810 acres while Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was given 575 acres and some sundry lands were diverted to Karnataka Small Scale Industries Development Corporation.
According to news published in a US journal; the secret city being operated by DRDO is called the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR). It is being said that the nuclear scientists are secretly working here day and night. The American journal published the report about the construction of the secret nuclear city by India on the basis of the image captured by the American Space Agency “NASA”. The spokesperson of the NASA said that the captured satellite image is more similar to a nuclear plant. Quoting retired Indian government officials and independent experts sitting in London and Washington; the US journal claims that the prime motive of India behind this secret city is to give itself an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in new hydrogen bombs, also known as thermonuclear weapons.
It had been exposed in 2012 that apart from many facilities, India has built the ‘secret nuclear city’. It was confirmed by independent researchers and Indian media that two secretive agencies were behind this project which is believed to be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic research laboratories, weapons and aircraft testing facilities
The expansion of India’s thermonuclear program would position the country alongside the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, and Israel which already have significant stockpiles of such weapons. Despite the fact that the Indian government has denied the existence of any such secret nuclear facility being under construction, Indian media and retired Indian military analysts and scientists have confirmed its existence. The project aims: to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for India’s nuclear reactors, and to help power the country’s fleet of new nuclear submarines.
According to Indian media reports, the nuclear city close to Chellakere is ringed by a security perimeter of thousands of military and paramilitary guards. The existence of India’s secret nuclear city highlights India’s ambitions to become a world power. Its excuse of matching the nuclear arsenal of China and Pakistan does not cut ice, since numbers matter little in achieving a credible nuclear weapons capability. Nuclear warheads and reliable delivery systems with adequate ranges are enough to serve as deterrence; one does not have to match missile for missile, warhead for warhead, and trigger mechanism for trigger mechanism.
India is welcome to its ambitions; every country has its dreams of grandeur but these should not be at the cost of peace in the region and depriving its populace of their livelihood. Its military doctrine is definitely offensive but India should be mindful of accelerating an arms race in the region and further provoking both China and Pakistan, with whom its relations are strained. India had to draw down its forces from Doklam earlier while facing Chinese troops. With Pakistan, India is constantly indulging in cross border shelling causing casualties.
The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host, who has authored six books on current affairs, including three on China
Published in Daily Times, July 29th 2018.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Ramapo Fault Line of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line
Monday, March 14, 2011
By Bob Hennelly
The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.
In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.
But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.
“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”
Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.
“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.
Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.
In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Ramapo Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.
“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

The Idiocy of Trump’s Nuclear Policy

US-Iran nuclear tensions: Why is Donald Trump engaged in a war of words with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani?
Firebrand president issues strongly-worded tweet warning Tehran 'never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences'
Joe Sommerlad
The Independent Online
Donald Trump has again taken to Twitter to enter a war of words with a rival world leader.
Having previously traded insults with North Korean president Kim Jong-un, including a row over who has the biggest red nuclear button, the US president has turned his attention to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani.
The feud relates to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the deal struck in 2015 with the Barack Obama administration, which saw international sanctions against the Middle Eastern power eased in exchange for its agreeing to greatly reduce its nuclear programme, the subject of Western suspicions since 2003.
What was said?
At a meeting of Tehran’s diplomatic corps, President Rouhani was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as saying: “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars”.
He also warned the US was “playing with the lion’s tail” in provoking Iran.
Angry enough to tweet his response with his caps lock on, President Trump wrote:
“To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
Why are US-Iran relations so tense?
Western powers and the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) have long feared that Iranian enrichment of uranium as part of its nuclear power generation programme was really being undertaken for use in the secret construction of a weapon of mass destruction.
The country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has consistently denied this, saying that the building of such a bomb would contravene Islamic strictures.
After halting enrichment as a gesture of good faith in 2003, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad quietly ramped up production before severing ties with the IAEA and its inspectors three years later. The UN Security Council responded by unanimously voting in favour of economic sanctions against Tehran in December 2006.
Suspicion over Iran’s intentions and an atmosphere of mutual mistrust prevailed until the EU announced a ban on the import of Iranian crude oil and petroleum in January 2012, a significant financial blow.
New president Hassan Rouhani reiterated Ayatollah Khamenei’s stance in an address to the UN General Assembly in September 2013: “Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defence doctrine and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions.”
In July 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to control Iranian nuclear activity developed by the US, China, the UK, France, Germany and Russia was signed but, by the following spring, Tehran had begun testing ballistic missiles.
The new US president’s short-lived national security chief Michael Flynn said Iran was “on notice” as a result of the tests in January 2017, a prelude to Donald Trump’s decertification of US compliance in the agreement in May 2018, arguing it was never in America’s best interests and “the worst deal ever”.
In the interim, Mr Rouhani described his new adversary as a “rogue newcomer to the world of politics” and the pair have meanwhile clashed over other issues, including the US decision to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and introduce a ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from travelling to the US.
Could Iran develop a nuclear weapon?
Tehran has the centrifuges in place to enrich uranium for use in nuclear power generation, but whether its ultimate intentions for the technology are benign or more sinister remains the great unknown from a Western perspective.
The recent run of mid-range missile testing appears an ominous sign of the regime’s military ambitions but, prior to the 2015 deal, the country had only enriched the mineral to 20 per cent purity so it would need to massively ramp up production to be able to reach the 90 per cent needed to achieve weapons-grade potential.
In signing that agreement, Tehran also agreed to reduce its uranium stockpile by 98 per cent and cut its total number of centrifuges from 20,000 by two-thirds so significant rebuilding would be required, a process designed to take at least 12 months, giving the international community plenty of notice.
Whether its scientists even have the necessary expertise in place to carry out such a plan has been called into question, notably by the IAEA in a 2015 report.
The threat of sanctions are also a powerful deterrent. Many Iranians were optimistic about the Islamic Republic’s potential as an emerging market primed for growth when the 2015 deal was signed but the US withdrawal under President Trump risks leaving the country isolated once more.
Another is the regional military threat posed by Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which have ballistic missiles of their own capable of striking Iran, which does not at present even have a meaningful air force with which to retaliate.

Raining On the Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)


If the US nuclear umbrella folds … The choices for Australia
24 Jul 2018|Malcolm Davis
Rod Lyon’s thought-provoking article in The Strategist concludes with a sobering choice for Australian defence planners considering a post–San Francisco world without US extended nuclear deterrence, and suggests two basic choices for Australia, Japan and South Korea:
They can either head down the path of developing indigenous nuclear arsenals, or they can attempt to dilute the advantages that nuclear weapons confer—advantages which would otherwise accrue to a set of states that did not wish them well.
Both Japan and South Korea have the technological means to rapidly develop independent nuclear deterrent capabilities, though neither state would have strong popular support for such a move. For Australia, it’s a bit more complicated. The issue of Australia ‘going nuclear’ has already been considered in numerous articles, and 2018 began with a bang in The Strategist with a discussion on Australia’s nuclear options by key authors such as Hugh White, Andrew Davies and Stephan Frueling, and in an ASPI Strategic Insights report by Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith. I contributed my thoughts, too.
The complexity and cost of getting the warheads and acquiring a credible delivery system would probably push Australian defence spending well past the 2% GDP target that we currently aspire to. Maybe President Donald Trump’s proposed 4% GDP target for NATO would be more appropriate as a starting point for an Australia considering nuclear weapons.
There would be political consequences for Australia of moving away from its traditional policy of fully supporting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Australia would violate the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty in getting nuclear weapons. Any Australian move towards nuclear weapons could prompt counter-responses from our immediate neighbours and accelerate the erosion of non-proliferation norms.
If we had to go nuclear, we’d not only need the infrastructure to develop and then sustain the nuclear forces we acquired (which means significant upfront and ongoing investment); we’d also have to think seriously about Australian nuclear strategy and doctrine to ensure we did deter effectively. Nuclear weapons and deterrence is a deadly serious business—it’s not about bluffing. An Australian nuclear option would have to embrace a warfighting capacity that we’d need to be willing to use.
The most obvious choice for force structure would be continuous at-sea deterrence on submarines. But the Shortfin Barracuda SSK isn’t designed for nuclear deterrence, and adding such a capability could limit its operational and tactical flexibility. And it takes time to develop such a capability, so if events continue to move quickly, we might simply be too late to respond and too slow to act.
If nuclear weapons are challenging, what about alternatives? Rod talks about trying to ‘dilute the advantages that nuclear weapons confer’. How Australia might achieve that objective goes to the question of whether non-nuclear capabilities can effectively deter nuclear threats.
A ballistic missile defence (BMD) system is commonly seen to be a non-nuclear counter to nuclear threats, but in reality the advantage always goes to the offence. It’s cheaper to build more missiles or equip existing missiles with MIRV capabilities and overwhelm missile defences. US national missile defence is hideously expensive and not that effective. Even the US Navy’s ship-based SM-3 interceptors are tested only under highly controlled conditions.
Certainly, there are options that under the right circumstances could allow pre-emptive strikes ‘left of launch’ to prevent use of nuclear weapons. That would demand intelligence which is persistent and penetrating of an adversary’s leadership and command and control, and that is exceedingly difficult with likely major power threats. It would also demand a prompt-strike capability, based on either effective offensive cyberwarfare or forward-deployed precision kinetic strikes against missiles. There’s no guarantee that such a capability could be developed, even by the United States, let alone Australia.
Rather than trying to counter nuclear threats symmetrically, an indirect and asymmetric approach might be better. Australia could consider acquiring the means to prevent a major-power adversary from projecting power against our vital strategic interests, including our air and maritime approaches, by developing anti-access and area denial (A2AD) capabilities that focus on the South China Sea and exploit vital maritime straits and chokepoints throughout Southeast Asia.
Australian A2AD would ideally focus on a tactical and operational offensive attack at source rather than maintain a traditional defence-in-depth strategy. It would imply the ADF acquiring substantial air and sea capabilities suitable for rapid long-range strikes with precision non-nuclear weapons in sufficient mass to generate a meaningful effect, alongside developing more robust cyber and electronic warfare attack capabilities.
The objective would be to rob an opponent of the military capability needed not only to project power aggressively against us, but also to weaken it in comparison with other regional actors, such that it then would be poorly placed to defend its other strategic interests. Striking at vital interests of the opponent could also imply attacking national economic resilience in a way that threatens the political survival of a regime. Together, these factors could raise the cost of aggression to unacceptable levels, and thus, hopefully, deter such aggression, without resort to nuclear weapons.
The problem with this indirect strategy is that it would require a substantial expansion of the ADF at great cost, and take considerable time. The nominal 2% of GDP target of the 2016 defence white paper would easily be breached. There’s also a risk that an adversary with far larger forces could do the same to us, and, as a smaller actor, we’re likely to be less resilient. Finally, in the absence of an Australian nuclear-weapons capability, the nuclear-armed major-power adversary always has escalation dominance.
Rod’s initial question therefore stands and poses a strategic dilemma for Australia in an unpredictable outlook. We could develop a combination of alternatives—BMD (accepting its limitations), ‘left of launch’ pre-emption, and A2AD—in the absence of US extended nuclear deterrence, at great cost. Yet that still leaves us potentially facing a serious nuclear threat with no guarantee that these non-nuclear options will work as an effective deterrent in a major crisis.
AUTHOR
Malcolm Davis is a senior analyst at ASPI.

More Dead Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)


Palestinian protesters gather as tear gas canisters are launched by Israeli forces during a demonstration along the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, July 27, 2018. AFP
Three Palestinians, Including 2 Teens, Said Dead in Gaza Border Protest
90 Palestinians wounded by live fire, Gaza ministry says ■ IDF says struck group of Gazans who threw firebombs toward Israel ■ UN's Middle East envoy: 'killing of Palestinian boy by Israeli fire in Gaza is shocking and tragic'
Jack KhouryYaniv Kubovich
28.07.2018 | 10:51
Three Palestinian demonstrators, including two teenagers, were killed by Israeli army fire during Friday's protests along the Israel-Gaza border, Gaza's Health Ministry said. Muamen Fathi Elhamas, 17-year-old from Rafah, succumbed to his wounds Saturday morning, according to the health ministry. Those killed Friday were identified as Majdi al-Satri, 12, and Razi Abu Mustafa, 43.

Muamen Fathi Elhamas,17.
According to the ministry, a total of 264 Palestinian demonstrators were injured in clashes, 90 of whom were wounded by live fire. Of those wounded, tenare in serious condition.
On Saturday, UN's Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov slammed Israel over the killing of the 12-year-old Palestinian, writing on Twitter that Israeli fire in Gaza is both "shocking and tragic," and "it's time for this to stop."
Yesterday’s killing of a 12 year old #Palestinian boy by #Israeli fire in #Gaza is shocking and tragic. Children are #NotATarget! Too many lives have been lost. Its time for this to stop. My hearfelt thought and prayers go out to the bereaved family.
— Nickolay E. MLADENOV (@nmladenov) July 28, 2018
Nickolay E. MLADENOV
@nmladenov
Yesterday’s killing of a 12 year old #Palestinian boy by #Israeli fire in #Gaza is shocking and tragic. Children are #NotATarget! Too many lives have been lost. Its time for this to stop. My hearfelt thought and prayers go out to the bereaved family.
According to a report in Gaza, a tank fired at a Hamas target in eastern Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

Palestinian protesters carry a youth injured during a demonstration along the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, July 27, 2018. Mahmud Hams/AFP Photo
Later on Friday evening, the Israeli military said it struck an observation post in northern Gaza in response to shots fired at Israeli forces. The strike caused no casualties or damage, the IDF added.
According to the IDF, some 7,000 Palestinians participated in demonstrations along the border, with several violent riots breaking out in which protesters threw stones and tear gas canisters, and burned tires.
A firebomb was found in an Israeli community in the Eshkol Regional Council near the border, which caused a small fire to break out. A second blaze erupted outside a greenhouse in the same area and minor damage to infrastructure was reported.

A Palestinian nurse reacts upon seeing the body of her husband who was killed by Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, southern Gaza Strip, July 27, 2018. \ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS
A number of protesters damaged the border fence before turning back and returning to the Strip, the IDF said, adding that it responded with riot-dispersal methods and live fire in accordance with regulations.
The IDF intends to respond with extra force against any attempt to damage the border fence or throw grenades or explosive devices at soldiers in order to make it clear to Hamas that it is a violation of the ceasefire reached earlier in July.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed the situation during a visit to an Israeli community near the Gaza border, saying: "We really do not want to be drawn into a war, we are doing everything to prevent a wide-ranging campaign, but the ball is in the other court, not in ours."
Lieberman added: "I strongly recommend to Hamas, also with regards to this weekend, to act wisely and quietly and not to force us to do that which we know how to do, but do not want to do."
Based on data provided by authorities in Gaza, the most recent deaths bring the number of demonstrators who have been killed since border protests began at the end of March to 152.

Palestinians react next to a wounded man during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza Strip, July 27, 2018. \ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

Babylon the Great must be careful with Iran

PHILIP A. DUR: We must be careful with Iran
This combination of two pictures shows U.S. President Donald Trump, left, on July 22 and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Feb. 6. In his latest salvo, Trump tweeted late on Sunday, July 22 that hostile threats from Iran could bring dire consequences. This was after Iranian President Rouhani remarked earlier in the day that ìAmerican must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.î Trump tweeted: ìNEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKE OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.î [ AP ]
By Philip A. Dur | Guest Columnist
Posted at 9:00 AM
The recent decision by the president to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran Nuclear Deal, has rekindled debates about the merits of the agreement and the implications of our withdrawal for the future. To begin with, let’s posit here that the deal was imperfect in its content and unworkable as a check on Iran’s ambitions. Let us also note in passing that the agreement negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and “approved” by President Obama, was not binding on President Trump because it was never ratified by the Senate — as all real treaties must be pursuant to our Constitution. It was not submitted for ratification precisely because it certainly would have failed!
In the first place, the limits on Iran’s push to a nuclear capability to compliment its advanced missile delivery systems will expire in less than 15 years, with no restrictions beyond the agreed timeline. In the second place, what is there to prevent Iran in the meantime from covertly acquiring warheads to fit on their ballistic missiles from others potential collaborators, say North Korea or even Pakistan? After all, both of these countries have collaborated in the past to export their nuclear technology to Iraq and Syria, for example.
The most egregious and fatal flaw in the agreement was the refusal of the parties to make the removal of sanctions on Iran contingent on stopping its criminal behavior. The signatories knew that Iran was and is a major sponsor of international terrorist groups including Hamas in Gaza and Hizbollah in Lebanon and Syria. Iranian agents have ventured so far as to blow up a synagogue in distant Argentina. The parties obviously accepted these facts as givens and not negotiable in the “deal.”
As Premier Netanyahu told a joint session of Congress, Iran with nukes and missiles poses an existential threat to Israel, and only a slightly less portentous threat to the Arab states in the Persian Gulf. But there is much more in the malevolent history of the Ayatollah-led Islamic Republic:
• the capture and destruction of our embassy in Teheran in 1979, and the brutal imprisonment of our embassy staff during the Carter years.
• the explosive attacks on our embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983 and 1984 killing more than 25 of our personnel.
• the destruction of the Marine barracks and the death of 241 Marines, sailors, and soldiers (and 58 French military) in Beirut in October 1983.
• the capture, imprisonment, torture, and murder of several American officials in Lebanon in 1984-85.
• the attack on the Kohbar Towers in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, in 1994, which took the lives of 20 U.S. Air Force personnel billeted there.
• the transfer of sophisticated Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) to Shiite militias in Iraq which resulted in a significant toll of US forces in Iraq.
Let us reflect on the fact that successive administrations did not retaliate forcefully in response to these murderous Iranian-sponsored attacks on Americans. Let us also take note that the favorite chant heard at pro-government demonstrations in Iran after the JCPOA was signed by our Secretary of State was “Death to America!”
To be clear, in cancelling the agreement and reimposing tough sanctions on Iran and other countries that do business there, we run a clear risk that Iran will resume work on nuclear weapons. We may also see a surge in Iranian-sponsored terrorist activity in Israel, Lebanon, Syria and beyond. And there could be a rise in public discontent in Iran as a result of a deteriorating economic situation.
On balance these outcomes are difficult, but manageable.
I believe that we have the military wherewithal to block the construction and coupling of nuclear payloads to Iranian missiles, however deep the tunnels that Iran uses to conceal this type of activity. In addition, critics of the action taken by the current administration point to Iran’s threat to close the straits of Hormuz in retaliation for a disarming attack. As unlikely as this seems, this too is a manageable threat. Where terrorist actions are concerned, we are not alone in countering them. Israel is watchful and skilled in responding to Iranian-led terrorism in their immediate neighborhood (Even the much criticized Russian government has expressed an interest in controlling Iranian sponsored threats to Israel!).
Finally, our fight is emphatically not with the Iranian people. If dissent against the Ayatollahs deepens and the people rise up — as they did against the late Shah in 1977 — and unlike the last administration’s “turn away” from the protesters after the elections in 2009, this time we might encourage the opposition and even help the cause. Of course with all the politically charged outrage with foreign interference in our own politics, we should probably tread very cautiously here.
Philip A. Dur, PhD, is a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (retired) and a Destin resident. He can be reached at philhu76@gmail.com.
It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. Bill Gates
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/bill_gates_385735

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The US Needs to Prepare for the Pakistani Horn (Daniel 8)

Image result for imran khan hates usThe next prime minister of nuclear-armed Pakistan really hates the U.S.

Bruce Riedel Posted at 6:40 pm on July 27, 2018

Khan is an outspoken defender of the army and is closely aligned with the Islamist movements patronized by the ISI. He is a frequent critic of the United States which he says treats Pakistan like a “doormat.” Khan says the American war on terror since 9/11 has cost Pakistan billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives. While domestic violence has gone down in the last couple of years it spiked during the election season…
Imran Khan has said that it would be a “bitter pill” to have to meet with Trump if he Khan is prime minister, but one he would swallow. He probably doesn’t have to worry. South Asia is not a priority for the Trump administration. The president has made clear he wants to bring Americans home from Afghanistan and wash his hands of the war there. His hard line rhetoric on Pakistan is unlikely to persuade Khan and the army to press the Taliban to peace negotiations. So far Trump has been all talk and no action about Pakistan’s ties to terrorism. His generals have persuaded him to stay in Afghanistan, but he is not persuaded they have a viable strategy. He may well be right.

Our President is CLUELESS About Nuclear War

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

Trump 'has no conception of the risk of nuclear war', warn experts

US President Donald Trump has “no conception” of the risk of nuclear war, the dangers of nuclear weapons or the importance of improving US-Russian cooperation, experts have claimed.

Based on his actions to date, there is little to suggest that Mr Trump has any conception of the risks of nuclear war
Dr William Potter, director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California,
Dr William Potter, director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, was talking as he launched a new book, Once and Future Partners: The United States, Russia and Nuclear Non-Proliferation, published by the International Institute for Strategic Affairs think tank.
And while he said Mr Trump’s recent meeting with Russian opposite number was “useful”, he stressed that what was really needed was cooperation at a diplomatic level.
Dr Potter, who co-edited the 296-page book with senior research associate Sarah Bidgood, told Express.co.uk: “The importance of personal relations in promoting collaborative non-proliferation policy certainly extends to presidents.
“But based on his actions to date, there is little to suggest that Mr Trump has any conception of the risks of nuclear war, the dangers of nuclear weapons spread, or how US-Russian cooperation can be employed to mitigate these threats.
Cuban missile crisis
The Cuban missile crisis in 1961 is generally regarded as closest the world has come to nuclear war (Image: GETTY)
 
“While it certainly is useful for the presidents of the United States and Russia to discuss nuclear issues, what is sorely needed is a return to the kind of routine high-level interactions between officials from Washington and Moscow to discuss contemporary proliferation challenges as was the case during much of the 1970s and 1980s.
“Ironically, this US-Soviet cooperation between ideological and military rivals persisted during some of the most frigid moments of the Cold War and across both Democratic and Republican administrations.
“Nothing of the sort is present today and there is no indication that the recent summit in Helsinki will change this situation.”
Dr Potter also lamented Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JPCA) agreement, ratified by the administration of Presidential predecessor Barack Obama alongside other world leaders as a way of deterring Iran from trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Trump wants to be 'unpredictable' with nuclear weapons

He explained: “The cooperation between the United States and the Russian Federation in the negotiation of the JCPOA was a good, if relatively rare, example of how in recent years Washington and Moscow could put aside many differences to promote an accord that served both countries’ security interests.
The unilateral disavowal of the JCPOA by Mr Trump suggests the low importance the current US administration places on cooperation with both its traditional allies, who continue to strongly support the JCPOA, or the value of cooperating with Russia on concrete matters, as both countries would appear to benefit from continued implementation of the accord.
“Our new book is intended to demonstrate that it was possible for the two principal Cold War rivals to cooperate closely on an issue—nuclear non-proliferation—even when they disagreed on most other foreign policy matters.
“We explain how this proved possible in the past and why it should continue to be in both sides’ interests to so again if we are to avoid another Cuban Missile-like Crisis, whose ending might be different the second time around.”
Hassan Rouhani
Mr Trump recently tweeted warnings to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (Image: GETTY)
 
The book is published at the end of a week which has seen Mr Trump lash out at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an all-capital-letters tweet, apparently in response to Mr Rouhani’s warnings that a conflict between his country and the US would be “the mother of all wars”.
Mr Trump wrote: “To Iranian President Rouhani: never, ever, threatens the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.
“We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death. Be cautious.”
Mr Trump raised eyebrows during the 2016 Presidential election campaign when he appeared to suggest that Japan should have nuclear weapons because North Korea had them.
In a further illustration of the tensions which characterise international relations at the moment, Iranian-backed, Yemen-based Houthi rebels on Wednesday launched a rocket attack on two Saudi Arabian oil tankers in the Red Sea’s Bab Al-Mandeb strait, prompting the Saudis to temporarily suspend oil exports along the busy route.

The Sixth Seal Will Be On The East (Revelation 6:12)

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5V31Wpa9PMM/TlVaIyeam2I/AAAAAAAASUw/t0AfnylzR0Q/s1600/article-2029335-0D8C51AE00000578-806_634x348.jpgNew Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes
Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances
Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM
Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.
“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”
“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”
This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.
This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.
The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.
“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”
It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.
In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.
“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”
The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.
Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

Antichrist Takes Up Protesters Cause

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Friday. Photo: Halkawt Aziz/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Protesters are digging in after nearly three weeks of demonstrations despite promises of millions of dollars and government reforms.
"The protests are ongoing and they will remain so. With the hands of these rebels, we will liberate Iraq from the corrupt. The current government and the previous consecutive governments didn't meet the specific needs of the Iraqi people," a protestor in Baghdad told Rudaw on Friday.
Hundreds gathered in the capital’s Tahrir Square amid heavy security presence.
In the last 15 years, the government has only brought suffering, the protester explained, pointing to lack of basic services and nearly two million Iraqis still unable to return to their homes.
"Inshallah, your seats will cease to exist, as the will of the people is stronger than your will," the protester said in a message to ruling politicians.
Iraq’s top Shiite authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, on Friday called for the urgent formation of a new government – delayed while a manual recount verifies results of the May 12 parliamentary election – and a new prime minister to “launch a relentless war against the corrupted.”
Current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi endorsed Sistani’s message and said he is working to fulfill the demands of the people according to his jurisdiction and available funds.
"In the initial stages of citizens announcing their demands in a number of provinces, we announced our instant response to all the legitimate demands, and we considered fulfilling the demands of citizens a strength, not a weakness, as they are sons of our nation and our goal is to serve them,” said Abadi in a statement released by his media office.
While Abadi hopes he can end the protests through some quickly-made promises, the people aren’t having it. They say they will keep coming into the streets to make their voices heard.
‘Enough with repressing protesters’
"The thing isn't about demands. It has to do with the parliamentary system. Nobody listens to the prime minister and he can't enforce his orders. Iraq needs a presidential system, not parliamentary," said protester said in Baghdad on Friday.
Calling for a presidential system, the protester said Baghdad can’t do anything. He pointed to Turkish forces pushing some 100 kilometres across the border into the Kurdistan Region and Ankara reducing the water in the Tigris River.
This wouldn’t have happened under Saddam Hussein, the protester said.
The victor of the May 12 parliamentary election, Muqtada al-Sadr, condemned the crackdown on the protesters.
“Corruption, then injustice, and then repression then [tear] gas, then beating, followed by injuries and death... with prisoners lying in the prisons of injustice,” Sadr described the situation in a poetic tweet on Friday.
Drawing on religious figures, he said, “Neither Ali, nor Hussein, not even Omer, will intercede for you. Fix the governance. The voice of the people has to be heard. Enough with repressing protesters."
At least 14 people have been killed in the protests that started on July 9 in Basra and then spread. Hundreds have been detained.
The main complaints are government corruption, lack of transparency, high unemployment, and poor services.
Abadi has promised to pour millions of dollars into infrastructure projects and job creation.
"Frankly, the protests will continue because it isn't enough for us that the declared plan of the Council of Ministers says it can implement the basics. Our main demand now is for all works to be strategic," said a protester in Baghdad who said electricity and water services in the capital have decreased because supplies are being redirected to southern provinces where the protests have been centred.

The Israeli Nuclear Threat

Israel Might Have as Many as 300 Nuclear Weapons. And Some Are in the 'Ocean.'

by Sebastien Roblin
Israel has never officially admitted to possessing nuclear weapons.
Unofficially, Tel Aviv wants everyone to know it has them, and doesn’t hesitate to make thinly-veiled references to its willingness to use them if confronted by an existential threat. Estimates on the size of Tel Aviv’s nuclear stockpile range from 80 to 300 nuclear weapons, the latter number exceeding China’s arsenal.
Originally, Israel’s nuclear forces relied on air-dropped nuclear bombs and Jericho ballistic missiles. For example, when Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a squadron of eight Israeli F-4 Phantom jets loaded with nuclear bombs was placed on alert by Prime Minister Golda Meir, ready to unleash nuclear bombs on Cairo and Damascus should the Arab armies break through.
Though Israel is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, Tel Aviv is preoccupied by the fear that an adversary might one day attempt a first strike to destroy its nuclear missiles and strike planes on the ground before they can retaliate. Currently, the only hostile states likely to acquire such a capability are Iran or Syria.
To forestall such a strategy, Israeli has aggressively targeted missile and nuclear technology programs in Iraq, Syria and Iran with air raids, sabotage and assassination campaigns . However, it also has developed a second-strike capability—that is, a survivable weapon which promises certain nuclear retaliation no matter how effective an enemy’s first strike.
Most nuclear powers operate nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines which can spend months quietly submerged deep underwater and at any moment unleash ocean-spanning ballistic missiles to rain apocalyptic destruction on an adversary’s major centers. Because there’s little chance of finding all of these subs before they fire, they serve as one hell of a disincentive to even think about a first strike.
But nuclear-powered submarines and SLBMs are prohibitively expensive for a country with the population of New Jersey—so Israeli found a more affordable alternative.
Berlin’s Unconventional Apology
During the 1991 Gulf War, it emerged that German scientists and firms had played a role in dispersing ballistic missile and chemical weapons technology to various Arab governments—technology which aided Saddam Hussein in bombarding Israel with Scud missiles . This in fact was long-running sore point: in the early 1960s, Israeli agents even carried out assassination attempts, kidnappings and bombings targeting German weapons scientists working on behalf of Arab governments.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl hatched a plan to simultaneously compensate Israel for the damages, while generating business for German shipbuilders suffering a downturn due to post-Cold War defense cuts. Starting in the 1970s, German shipbuilder HDW began churning Type 209 diesel electric submarines for export, with nearly 60 still operational around the globe. One Type 209, the San Luis, managed to ambush Royal Navy vessels twice during the Falkland War, though it failed to sink any ship due to the defective torpedoes.
Kohl offered to fully-subsidize the construction of two enlarged Type 209s, designated the Dolphin-class, as well as cover 50 percent of the cost of a third boat in 1994. The Dolphins displaced 1,900-tons while submerged, measured 57-meters long and are manned by a crew of 35—though they can accommodate up to ten special forces personnel. These entered service 1999–2000 as the INS Dolphin, Leviathan and Tekumah (“Revival”).
Each Dolphin came equipped with six regular tubes for firing 533-millimeter DM2A4 heavyweight fiber-optic guided torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles—as well as four 650-millimeter mega-sized tubes, which are rare in modern submarines. These tubes can be used to deploy naval commandos for reconnaissance and sabotage missions, which have played a major role in Israeli submarine operations.
However, the plus-size torpedo tubes have a useful additional function: they can accommodate especially large submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM)—missiles large enough to carry a nuclear warhead. While a ballistic missile arcs into space traveling at many times the speed of sound, cruise missiles fly much slower and skim low over the earth’s surface.
In the 1990s the United States declined to provide Israel with submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles due to the rules of the Missile Technology Control Regime prohibiting transfer of cruise missile with a range exceeding 300 miles.
Instead, Tel Aviv went ahead and developed their own. In 2000, U.S. Navy radars detected test launches of Israeli SLCMs in the Indian Ocean that struck a target 930 miles away. The weapon is generally believed to be the Popeye Turbo—an adaptation of a subsonic air-launched cruise missile that can allegedly carry a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead. However, the SLCM’s characteristics are veiled in secrecy and some sources suggest a different missile type entirely is used. An Israeli Dolphin submarine may have struck the Syrian port of Latakia with a conventional cruise missile in 2013 due to reports of a shipment of Russian P-800 anti-ship missiles.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

USGS Evidence Shows Power of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM
USGS.gov
Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.
“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”
“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”
This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.
This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.
The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.
“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”
It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.
In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.
“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”
The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.
Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake

The US and Tactical Nukes (Daniel 7)

U.S. Submarines Will Soon Carry Tactical Nuclear Weapons
Critics argue it’s a bad idea. Here's why.
Kyle Mizokami
Jul 26, 2018
The U.S. Navy’s fleet of ballistic missile submarines will soon carry tactical nuclear weapons, as Congress prepares to fund development of a new, low-yield nuclear warhead. The submarines, which form a functional invulnerable retaliatory force in case of surprise nuclear attack, will soon be able to launch missiles with less powerful tactical nuclear weapons. Not everyone is sold on the new weapon, which critics charge is unnecessary and could lower the threshold for nuclear war.
The U.S. Navy’s fourteen Ohio nuclear ballistic missile submarines provide a powerful deterrent to surprise nuclear attack. The submarines embark on lengthy deterrence patrols, hiding in the world’s oceans, effectively a moving cache of nuclear weapons that an adversary would find extremely difficult to destroy. As long as the subs are at sea, the U.S. maintains the ability to counter a surprise attack with a counterattack of its own.
Every four years, the sitting presidential administration conducts a review of U.S. nuclear forces. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, commissioned by President Trump, calls for replacing some of the existing nuclear warheads on the Ohio-class submarines with low-yield warheads. The goal is to have the ability to strike urgent, time sensitive targets virtually any place on Earth.
Each Ohio submarine carries twenty Trident D-5 missiles, and each missile is outfitted with an unknown number of W76-1 nuclear warheads. (The U.S. keeps the number of submarines at sea and warheads per submarine intentionally ambiguous, although we know Washington has pledged to never deploy more than 240 missiles at sea at any one time.) Now it appears at least some of those warheads will be replaced with the W76-2, which has a much smaller explosive yield.
The Administration argues that the U.S. may need to strike quickly strike targets with tactical nuclear weapons. An example might be a nuclear-armed missile sitting on a North Korean missile launch pad. Most tactical nukes are aircraft delivered bombs, and could take the better part of a day to ready and then reach their target. A tactical nuke delivered by a submarine-launched ballistic missile, on the other hand, could be delivered in less than an hour.

The training version of a B61 bomb.
Wikimedia Commons
How small a warhead yield are we talking about? That’s a good question. The existing W76-1 warhead has an explosive yield of 100 kilotons (for reference, the Hiroshima bomb was 16 kilotons.) The B61-12 tactical nuclear gravity bomb has a “dial-a-yield” mechanism that allows for yields of .3 (or just 300 tons of TNT), 1.5, 10, and 50 kilotons. The W76-2 would likely have a yield similar to the B61-12’s low end.
Critics, on the other hand, believe the new warhead is unnecessary and dangerous. They believe that the W76-2 is a solution in search of a problem, noting that sudden “bolt from the blue” crisis that suddenly demands a tactical nuclear weapon placed on a target in less than an hour is very unlikely. They believe that existing tactical nuclear weapons would be forward deployed near a potential crisis, making them available more quickly than commonly believed.
The new weapon also comes under fire for being needlessly escalatory. The United States has an overwhelming amount of conventional firepower, which critics of the new weapon argue can just as effectively destroy a time-sensitive threat. Using a tactical nuclear weapon could be just plain unnecessary. Furthermore, unless nukes have already been used in the conflict, the use of the new warhead would cause the the United States to cross the nuclear threshold first, inviting adversaries to use their own nukes against U.S. and allied forces.
Congress is preparing to fund development of the W76-2, to a tune of $65 million. The process won’t involve building any new weapons--instead the government will convert existing W76-1 warheads into low yield versions. Meanwhile, the controversy as to whether the weapons are needed and ultimately dangerous to U.S. national security rages on.

How Trump Will Destroy Babylon the Great


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a speech on “Supporting Iranian Voices” at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on July 22, 2018. (AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill)
How the Neocon Plan to Destabilize Iran Will Blow Back on the United States
A destabilized Iran would make post-invasion Iraq look like Disney World by comparison.
By Juan ColeTwitter July 26, 2018
Former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer has come on television to advocate the destabilization of Iran, on the grounds that it would improve the lives of Iranians and perhaps lead to the end of what he called its “theological regime.” Fleischer, who was for eight and a half years a chief propagandist for the catastrophic US war on and occupation of Iraq, appears to have learned nothing (and those who book him on national television seem to have learned less). He was taking advantage of the saber rattling against Tehran being conducted by the Trump administration.
Trump threatened Iran with what sounded like a nuclear holocaust in a hyper-ventilating, all-caps tweet on Sunday, after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the United States that if it attacked Iran it would get “the mother of all wars.” Rouhani has also been warning that Iran could blockade the Strait of Hormuz, through which 22 percent of the world’s petroleum and a significant percentage of its liquefied natural gas moves. Iran does not actually have that capability (and such a move would in any case cripple Iran as well), and Rouhani is making himself look foolish by going around quoting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from the 1991 Gulf War.
The old Bush-era neoconservatives, including National Security Adviser John Bolton and Fleischer himself, have eagerly revived all the rhetorical deceptions they once deployed with regard to ginning up the disastrous Iraq War, but are now aiming them at Iran. The hypocrisies inherent in Fleischer’s remarks are not just a personal failing but infect the inside-the-Beltway political elite in general. Fleischer minds that Iran is a “theological regime.” But no regime is more theological than that of Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, and Fleischer does not advocate destabilizing it—indeed, he has repeatedly spoken positively about Riyadh.
Fleischer is a major figure in the US Israel lobbies, going to the mat for a country where the religious right has a lock on public policy, where the religious right has a lock on public policy, as evinced by the new law denying, on “theological” grounds, surrogacy rights to gays, which this week provoked major demonstrations in Tel Aviv. Fleischer’s Republican Party has been kneecapping Roe V. Wade for decades and seems on the cusp of overturning it to please the Christian right, a key GOP constituency.
It seems clear that, whatever it is that makes American conservatives (and a not inconsiderable number of liberals) hysterical about Iran, it is not that it has a “theological” government. Moreover, Iranian foreign policy is not typically made on a religious basis. Iran supports the secular, proto-Stalinist, socialist Baath Party in Syria. It is allied with oligarchic Russia and Communist China. It supports a multicultural coalition that includes Maronite Christians in Lebanon. It sides with Christian Armenia against Azerbaijan (which, now a largely secular country, has a Shiite heritage). A Shiite clerical regime itself, Tehran has its difficulties with the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq.
Iran’s major military interventions have been against ISIL and kindred groups in Iraq and Syria. Iran sent Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Shiite militias, along with a small number of its own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as well as Afghan fighters, into Syria to fight the Sunni extremists (along with merely conservative Sunni rebels). It also helped to organize Shiite militias in Iraq for campaigns in Tikrit and elsewhere against the terrorist group of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In this endeavor, of defeating ISIL, Tehran was a latent asset to the United States, something neither Tehran nor Washington can publicly acknowledge.
As for Fleischer’s show of caring about the welfare of the Iranian people, surely he jests. Iran’s economy, and the well-being of the Iranian people, has been badly hurt for decades by American sanctions. The United States has even gone to the lengths of endangering airplane passengers in that country by refusing to allow the country’s airline to update its aging fleet by purchasing from Boeing or Airbus. American sanctions have indirectly, at least, hurt the Iranian middle classes’ ability to get certain medicines.
This meme—that Iran is ruled by kleptocrats who sacrifice the best interests of the people for their own gain—was also trotted out this week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Yet what greater giveaway of public goods to private corporations has been carried out by any government on earth than that of the highly corrupt Trump administration, which has gutted the EPA and environmental organizations and handed the billionaire class huge tax cuts? These steps will deprive the American public of key government services and expose their children to poisons, not to mention dooming them to the ravages of climate change.
Iran ranks 130 out of 180 countries in the world on perceived corruption, according to Transparency International, which is admittedly pretty bad. But it ranks higher than Mexico and Kenya, and is only a little lower than stalwart American ally Egypt. Fleischer and Pompeo exhibit no desire to destabilize those other corrupt governments. And Pompeo’s show of concern for Iranians would be more credible if he did not back a visa ban on them and if he hadn’t allied himself with the notorious terrorist group the Mojahedin-e Khalq.
The hypocrisy of this push on Iran is only one of its objectionable features. The Iraq War set in train events that displaced on the order of 4 million people out of the country’s then 26 million—as in, made them homeless. That would be like chasing 48 million Americans out of their homes, for years on end. Excess mortality caused by the invasion and subsequent events is controversial, but it likely amounted to hundreds of thousands. Millions were wounded. And the invasion and occupation led to the rise of ISIL and to the subsequent destruction of much of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, as well as to vast devastation inflicted on several other Sunni-majority cities.
A destabilized Iran would make American and post-American Iraq look like Disney World in comparison. It would provoke an exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps of millions, to Europe, exacerbating the struggles over nativism and immigration in that continent. Since Iran was a bulwark against ISIL, the latter would likely take advantage of an Iran in disarray to come back in Sunni Arab neighboring states, and to hit the United States and Europe. Minorities like the Iranian Kurds might make a play for independence, provoking Turkish military intervention. Iran’s instability would certainly spill over into Iraq and Afghanistan, worsening security in countries with thousands of US troops on the ground.
Fleischer, Pompeo, and their ilk may think that Western security is enhanced when the Middle East is in flames and unable to challenge the chief American proxies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. In fact, this chase after “security” through turmoil only produces worse problems. History may not be exactly dialectical, but it is nevertheless true that payback is a bitch. Israel occupied south Lebanon from 1982 to 2000 in a bid to block Palestinian pushback from that country, but only managed to radicalize many Lebanese Shiites and create Hezbollah. The United States deployed Muslim fundamentalists against the Soviets in Afghanistan and managed to create Al Qaeda. Bush invaded Iraq to depose a one-party Baath, secular socialist state and created what is to all intents and purposes another Islamic Republic, with Shiite militias as pillars of the establishment. The most successful US foreign-policy approach of the past 70 years was containment—leaving an adversary alone except where it was desirable to defend US spheres of influence.
In the wake of the senseless carnage of World War I (what were they fighting for, again?), Irish poet W.B. Yeats wrote his celebrated “Second Coming,” a warning about how messianic hopes can go horribly awry.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
No better epitaph could be found for our own rotten times. In the last line of the poem, Yeats was raising an alarm about precisely those sorts of soulless technocrats now in charge of American, Saudi, and Israeli foreign policy. It is the US military-industrial complex and its allies in the Israeli Likud party and in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, to which those ominous lines now apply best: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”