What Will Happen At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

What If The Earthquake Had Hit Manhattan?

Today’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake was felt throughout the mid-Atlantic, but its epicentre — a small town in Virginia — took the brunt of its wrath. What if it had started in NYC instead? We may find out sooner than you think.

The Risk Is Real

New York isn’t very high on the list of places you think of when you think earthquake. But that’s more a lucky accident of the times we live in than a promise of future calm. In the 400 years that we’ve inhabited that small, skinny island off the coast of New Jersey, the city’s been hit at least three times by moderate-to-major earthquakes. A 1737 quake just outside the city limits shook chimneys to the ground. Another struck in 1783. And in 1884, a 5.5-magnitude event cracked the walls of buildings in Jamaica and was felt as far away as Maine. Historically speaking, we’re overdue.

Scientifically speaking, too. A 2008 report in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (PDF) showed that those three were just the perceptible earthquakes suffered by the region; a total of 383 tremors and shakes have occurred in the 39,000sqkm area around NYC since 1677. New York and its environs sit atop a vast networks of several small, active faults and a handful of lines capable of producing 6 and 7 magnitude events that have lain dormant. For now.

Best Case Scenario

The most likely occurrence — a 5ish magnitude quake in or near Manhattan — would be terrifically bad. Not end-of-the-world bad. Not cataclysmic. But horribly traumatic, according to a 2005 study by the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation. The committee, a group of civil engineers, academics, and government officials, spent four years determining the fallout of a significant NYC quake. Let’s hope we never find out if they were right.

I spoke with Dan O’Brian, a Program Manager for the NYS Office of Emergency Management and one of the co-authors of that report. He said that while it was published in 2005, the findings largely hold true six years later. And that the biggest risk isn’t the city’s the towering skyscrapers; it’s the brownstones:

The [structures]that are of a particular concern are unreinforced masonry. The brownstones, six-story, turn of the century. Those are the buildings that don’t have much ability to withstand lateral forces, and they tend to crumble.

So what kind of damage are we talking about? According to the NYCEM report, an event of equal strength to what hit Virginia today would cost approximately $US45 billion (inflation adjusted) in building damage and lost income, with over 2500 buildings damaged and nearly 200,000 people left homeless. Forty tons of debris would cascade the streets, 25 times the amount caused by 9/11. The casualties: 1200 dead, 200,000 wounded.

“You’ve got so much there, if you were to have an epicentre of even a moderate sized earthquake, if it’s epicentered in the immediate NY area you’re likely to see a good bit of damage,” explains O’Brien. Most of that is due to the general building stock.”

The destruction wouldn’t be evenly distributed. Softer soil leads to stronger vibrations; that geological truth, combined with where most of that unreinforced masonry stock is located, make the Upper East Side and Chinatown most vulnerable to a quake. The city’s skyscrapers will hold (to a point), the bridges will survive as well today as they did in 1884. There would be nearly a thousand fires, but the NYFD would have the resources to handle them–assuming the water lines aren’t cut in the quake.

So yes, bad, right. But not doomsday. Although that’s an option, too.

Worst Case Scenario

Did you know that New York City sits less than 40km away from an active nuclear power plant? And that that same power plant sits just a mile south of an active seismic zone that’s considered capable of causing a 6.0-magnitude earthquake? That’s when things get apocalyptic.

The Indian Point nuclear plant, located just north of Manhattan, has provided power to Westchester County and the city itself for decades without incident. But while its operators have claimed that the structures can survive up to a magnitude 6 quake, seismologist Lynn Sykes told the Gotham Gazette recently that he isn’t so sure:

The plants are designed to withstand an event on the intensity scale of VII, which equals a magnitude of 5 or slightly higher in the region. (Intensity measures the effects on people and structures.) A magnitude 6 quake, in Sykes opinion, would indeed cause damage to the plant.

The two reactors provide 10 per cent of the state’s electricity and 30 per cent of NYC’s, meaning that in addition to the destruction outlined in our best case scenario, massive power outages could be expected. If the quake were strong enough to create fractures in Indian Point’s bedrock, radioactive materials could flow freely into the Hudson River. After the events of Fukushima earlier this year, that’s no longer an unthinkable occurrence.

So where does that leave us? We’re in no better or worse shape today than we were yesterday or last month. And the only part of this equation that might change in the next several years is Indian Point, which has been facing political pressure of late and whose contract may not be renewed. But really, the only thing that’s different now is the awareness that it’s not an if, it’s a when. That we’re just running out the clock. And that’s should have us shaking in our boots.

Khamenei Calls for Jihad in Pakistan

Iran’s Khamenei names Kashmir, calls for jihad

Written by Manish Tewari | Updated: June 29, 2017 8:10 pm

Iran, Iran presidential elections, Iran elections, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran voting, iran news, indian express news Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks to the audience in Tehran, Iran May 17, 2017. (Source: Reuters)Even before the holy month of Ramzan could conclude and Eid spread its munificent blessings over the vale of Kashmir, a deputy superintendent of the Jammu & Kashmir police was stripped, brutally assaulted and killed on the premises of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. Just as the faithful had gathered to mark the Shab-e-Qadr or the Night of Power, Mohammed Ayub Pandith’s body was dragged out of the mosque and dumped in a drain.

Only six weeks ago, on May 10, Lt Ummer Fayaz was abducted by militants and killed in Shopian district. Even as the pall-bearers carried the dead body of the slain soldier to a nearby orchard, the mourners talked in whispers about the marks of torture on Ummer’s back, his broken jaw, broken ankles, his missing teeth, and the bruises and cuts on his body.

The lynching and the gruesome murder of both these officers made the nation recoil in horror. Justified outrage and calls for retribution filled the airwaves.

Growing up on the front lines of another battle against terror, this time in Punjab in the 1980s, and having lost a parent to the depredations of that ghastly violence, the ongoing violence in Jammu & Kashmir is but a sickeningly familiar story of the brutalization and dehumanization of society’s psyche brought about by the cycle of violence.

Perhaps, we should try and imagine the mindset of a child who was born in 1990 in Kashmir and is today 27 years old. All that he has seen in his life are curfews, cordon and search operations, stone pelting, enforced disappearances, and torture and fake/real encounter killings. For him, violence is the new normal. The face of the Indian state is someone clad in olive green or khaki carrying an AK-47, kicking the front door down. This is the dominant narrative in any militancy-prone, terror-infested, freedom-struggle area –- give it the label of your choice.

In such an environment of fear, terror, intimidation, coercion and death lurking around the next corner, it is easy for the likes of Burhan Wani to become folk heroes and legends. As the ‘Washington Post’ said about him “Burhan Wani was just 22 when he died, but he was already a folk hero to many in Indian-administered Kashmir. The telegenic insurgent — a leader of a group designated a foreign terrorist organisation by the State Department — played his social media persona to the hilt, mugging for pictures with automatic weapons and posting videos on WhatsApp and Facebook exhorting other men to join the separatist cause. He also threatened attacks on police convoys and military housing.”

There were others after him. Sabzar Ahmad renowned as ‘SAB DON’, became the new poster boy of terror in the Kashmir Valley. Taking forward the cult of Wani, Ahmad guided Hizbul terrorists until the security forces neutralised him in an encounter on May 27. More such poster children will, unfortunately, emerge, the reason for which is not difficult to discern.

Some months ago about 40-odd young people from various districts of Kashmir, under the aegis of an organisation called Jammu Kashmir People’s Alliance that has an interesting tagline, “We serve, We settle,” came to meet a Concerned Citizens Group in Delhi. This is led by former finance and external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, who led two highly visible and successful outreach efforts to estranged sections in the Kashmir valley.

During the interaction these young boys and girls told us a very disturbing story. Apparently among the most wanted stone pelters in the valley is a gentleman called “DK” and he is all of SEVEN years old. If the average age of stone-pelters is between 7-17 years, irrespective of who is paying them, the Indian state is sitting on a volcano that is belching lava but has not really exploded. When and if it does, a lot of people entrusted with the remit of handling Kashmir both in the Centre and the state, will not have the time to say goodbye.

Then there is an international dimension to the Kashmir situation that has suddenly manifested itself. It has everything to do with the turmoil that US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia has plunged the Islamic/ Arab world into. The calling out of Qatar for its links with Iran and subsequent developments has further divided the already fractured polity of the Middle East.

On Eid, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran gave a very chilling address in Teheran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly called for Jihad. “According to Islamic jurisprudence, when an enemy takes over Muslim lands, jihad in any possible form becomes everyone’s duty,” he said. “Palestine is the number one issue of the Islamic world, but some Islamic countries are acting in such a way as if the Palestinian case had been ignored and forgotten,” he added.

Then came the coup de grace. “Muslims the world over should also openly support the people of Bahrain, Kashmir and Yemen and repudiate oppressors and tyrants who attacked people in Ramadan,” Khamenei said.

Though Iran has earlier voted against India on the issue of Kashmir in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), this is the first time the situation in the Valley has been given a religious colour by Iran’s Supreme leader. Even those who are fighting against the Indian establishment in some districts of J&K have refrained from labelling their movement as “Islamic,” much less “jihadi.”

It is only one or two Hizbul Mujahideen “activists,” Zakir Rashid Bhatt among them, who have tried to give militancy an Islamic colour. In a video that went viral, he said, “When we pick up stones or guns it should not be with this intention that we are fighting for Kashmir (as a nation). The sole motive should be for the supremacy of Islam so that Shariah is established here.”

But Zakir Bhat was quickly denounced by the other separatist leaders.

However, the fact that a Shia religious leader of Iran has clubbed Kashmir, a predominantly Sunni area with causes like Yemen and Bahrain should worry New Delhi, because Iran backs up its rhetoric with logistical support, be it to the Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the Houthis in Yemen, to name but a few.

This support from Iran coincidentally comes at a time when the predominantly Sunni ISIS, or Daesh, is trying to strike roots in Jammu & Kashmir.

On his forthcoming visit to Israel, Prime Minister Modi would be well advised to ask his interlocutors about the activities of General Qasem Soleimani, the once reclusive head of the Revolutionary Guards and its elite Quds Force. General Soleimani has suddenly surfaced from an era in the dark leading clandestine processes overseas, to attain virtually iconic prominence in Iran. He and the Quds Force have successfully converted erstwhile territorial struggles into religious battles. One can only hope that Kashmir is not their next frontline.

The government should abandon its excessive reliance on hard power in J&K. Hard power should only be used to soften the recalcitrant so that soft power can take over. Jammu & Kashmir is crying out for the healing touch. All the leaders of the state cutting across the political divide, including chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, are urging the Central government to initiate an outreach to the alienated.

The Prime Minister will ignore their sage advice at his own peril. Terms like “final solution” do not help, as that may mean very differently from what the Central government has in mind.

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

US Tells Pakistan to Stop Terrorism

US, India tell Pakistan: Don’t let terrorists use your territory

BilkulOnline.com

Washington, June 28 : Pakistan was put on notice by the US and India who called for rooting out terrorists’ safe havens and to fight groups including Pak-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and D-company even as the two countries decided to broaden their strategic, defence and economic relationship.

The new direction in the bilateral relationship came during the summit meeting on Monday night between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump who met for the first time six months after the host’s election to the top office.

The two leaders also told Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used for terror attacks on other countries and asked it to bring to justice terrorists blamed for attacks in Mumbai and other places in India.

“The leaders stressed that terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought and terrorist safe havens rooted out in every part of the world. They resolved that India and the US will fight together against this grave challenge to humanity.

“They committed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including Al Qaeda, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), D-Company and their affiliates,” said the joint statement issued after their meeting.

India appreciated the US designating the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist — just ahead of the Trump-Modi meet of Monday — “as evidence of the commitment of the US to end terror in all its forms”.

The statement specifically referred to the terror attacks in Mumbai (2008) and Pathankot (2016) that it said were perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups and said the terrorists must be expeditiously brought to justice.

The LeT was blamed for the Mumbai mayhem of November 2008 that killed 166 Indians and foreigners including Americans. The Jaish was accused of attacking the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab, leaving seven security personnel dead.

Also, in their joint remarks to the media after delegation level talks, both Modi and Trump spoke of their commitment to combat terrorism.

Modi said battling terror and destroying terrorist hideouts would be an important part of mutual cooperation.

“We will enhance the intelligence exchange to boost coordination to address our common concerns over terrorism and will deepen our policy coordination accordingly.”

Modi said the two countries had agreed to increase cooperation to tackle increasing radicalisation, extremism and terrorism.

Trump said both India and the US had been struck by terrorism, “and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them.

“We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.

“Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces. And next month, they will join together with the Japanese navy to take place in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean.”

Answering questions later, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said the US move to declare Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist had sent a clear signal.

“You should take the step for what it is. It is in a sense fixing responsibility, highlighting a problem.

“There is a context to it… It is focusing on a particular group and a particular individual… I think none of us can really miss that message.”

The Foreign Secretary said there was a broad discussion on Pakistan. It was also extensive and very detailed on certain issues.

“We had very much converging viewpoint of what is the problem, let us diagnose the problem. And it is not just the Indian situation… A lot of discussion related to what was happening in Afghanistan.”

On economic cooperation, the two countries said they plan to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations to expedite regulatory processes and increase market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology and manufactured goods and services.

They also resolved to pursue increased commercial engagement in a manner that advances the principles of free and fair trade.

“Prime Minister Modi and President Trump looked forward to conclusion of contractual agreements between Westinghouse Electric Company and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India for six nuclear reactors in India and also related project financing,” the statement said.

Against the backdrop of Trump’s remarks against India and China regarding the Paris climate change agreement, the statement said the two leaders called for a rational approach that balances environment and climate policy, global economic development and energy security needs.

The US cleared the sale of Guardian drones to India with the two countries pledging to deepen their defence and security cooperation.

The statement said that the two countries look forward to working together on advanced defence equipment and technology “at a level commensurate with that of the closest allies and partners of the United States.”

“Reflecting the partnership, the United States has offered for India’s consideration the sale of Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems, which would enhance India’s capabilities and promote shared security interests,” it said.

The United States expressed strong support for India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.

It also reaffirmed the support of the United States for India’s permanent membership of a reformed U.N. Security Council .

Korea Continues To Build Nukes

Kim In Ryong told the U.N. Security Council that the more than 50-year confrontation between North Korea and the United States came closer to the brink of nuclear war than ever before when the U.S. military held what he called its largest-ever “aggressive” maneuvers with South Korea in April and May.

Since then, he said, the United States has sent B-1B nuclear bombers into South Korean airspace, deployed the THAAD anti-missile system in the country, imposed new U.S. sanctions against North Korea, and spearheaded another U.N. sanctions resolution.

Kim said the Trump administration is pursuing an outdated “hostile policy” toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is North Korea’s official name.

He said the United States is modernizing its nuclear weapons but other countries aren’t allowed “to test or launch any object which goes with the words of nuclear or ballistic.”

“This is really the height of shameless arrogance, self-righteousness and double standards,” he said.

Accusing the U.S. of trying to hold down North Korea and retain a military edge in Asia as part of “its dream of world domination,” Kim said the North Korean people have concluded that to defend their rights and sovereignty they must respond in kind.

“No matter what others say, whatever sanctions, pressure and military attack may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces, which was chosen to defend the sovereignty of the country and the rights to national existence,” he said.

The North Korean ambassador was making a rare appearance in the Security Council at an open meeting on implementation of a resolution adopted in 2004 aimed at keeping terrorists, extremists and other “non-state actors” from obtaining nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. He has boycotted council meetings dealing with U.N. sanctions against North Korea.

A statement read at the council meeting by Spain’s U.N. ambassador, Roman Oyarzun Marchesi, on behalf of 51 countries that strongly oppose the spread of weapons of mass destruction condemns “proliferation in all possible forms by anyone” — and vows to “make every effort to prevent it.”

“In this connection, we condemn in the strongest terms the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development activities conducted by the DPRK in flagrant violation of the Security Council’s resolutions,” said the statement, whose signatories include the United States and countries from Asia, Africa, the Mideast, Latin America and Europe.

The U.N. disarmament chief, Izumi Nakamitsu, warned the Security Council that advancements in science and technology in an increasingly interconnected world are making it more difficult to prevent “the disastrous scenario” of terrorists using nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. She said that while globalization brings new opportunities for economic growth and development it also facilitates the rapid movement of materials and the latest scientific and technological discoveries as well as people with expertise.

“Non-state actors including terrorist organizations will exploit any loophole to obtain these technologies,” she said.

“While there are still significant technical hurdles that terrorist groups need to overcome to effectively use weapons of mass destruction, a growing number of emerging technologies could make this barrier easier to cross,” Nakamitsu said.

She pointed to the use of drones, 3D printers and the exploitation of “dark web” as a marketplace to buy dual-use equipment and materials.

“Dual use is further complicating our efforts to address the risk posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” Nakamitsu said.

Iran Remains Nuclear Ready

http://andrewtheprophet.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/New-generation-centrifuges1.jpgAP confirms: U.S. nuke deal to allow Iran 6,000 centrifuges for continued uranium enrichment

Allahpundit
Posted at 11:21 am on March 19, 2015

So the rumors last month were true: Six thousand centrifuges will continue to spin, which is supposedly a great victory for the U.S. since it would mean — assuming Iran isn’t covertly operating even more centrifuges under the UN’s nose — that Iran would need a solid year to “break out” and refine enough uranium to power a nuclear bomb. Which means Barack Obama would have a year to prepare and execute a U.S. attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities to stop them.Oh, minor footnote: Barack Obama’s never going to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Ever. And both sides understand that.

[Six thousand is] less than the 10,000 such machines Tehran now runs, yet substantially more than the 500 to 1,500 that Washington originally wanted as a ceiling. Only a year ago, U.S. officials floated 4,000 as a possible compromise…

It’s unclear how complete the draft agreement is. Iran’s deeply buried underground enrichment plant remains a problem, officials said, with Washington demanding the facility be repurposed and Tehran insisting it be able to run hundreds of centrifuges there. Iran says it wants to use the machines for scientific research; the Americans fear they could be quickly retooled for enrichment…

Any March framework agreement is unlikely to constrain Iran’s missile program, which the United States believes may ultimately be aimed at creating delivery systems for nuclear warheads. Diplomats say that as the talks move to deadline, the Iranians continue to insist that missile curbs are not up for discussion…

After the deal expires [in 15-20 years], Iran could theoretically ramp up enrichment to whatever level or volume it wants.

So Iran gets to keep enriching, maybe gets to keep using its heavily fortified Fordow facility, gets to keep perfecting its ICBMs while all of this is happening, and then is free to get crazy with the nuclear cheez whiz in 15 years — and amid all this, a variety of American and international sanctions would be gradually relaxed. In return for all that, the U.S. gets a handful of magic beans. Pet the Gatestone Institute, even the French — the French! — think Obama’s a sucker who’s unwittingly kickstarting a nuclear panic among the Middle East’s Sunni powers. The same guy who’s spent years talking up “nuclear zero” may end up leaving a legacy of Islamic states arming themselves to the teeth with civilization-destroying bombs:

[French Foreign Minister Laurent] Fabius himself, in a meeting last week, made extremely clear his deep distrust (“contempt, really,” one MP says) of both John Kerry and Barack Obama. Another of the group quotes Fabius as saying: “The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians,” before explaining that he himself had sent out, mid-February, a number of French ‘counter-proposals’ to the State Department and White House, in order to prevent an agreement too imbalanced in favor of Iran…

French diplomats are no angels, and they haven’t suddenly turned 180 degrees from their usual attitude of reflexive dislike toward Israel. They worry, however, that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, every other local Middle East power will want them. Among their worst nightmares is a situation in which Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the Dr. Strangelove club. French diplomats may not like Israel, but they do not believe Israelis would use a nuclear device except in a truly Armageddon situation for Israel. As for Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey going nuclear, however, they see terrifying possibilities: irresponsible leaders, or some ISIS-type terrorist outfit, could actually use them. In other words, even if they would never express it as clearly as that, they see Israelis as “like us,” but others potentially as madmen.

I said most of what I had to say about this in this post but let me reemphasize an obvious point: All this is, really, is a punt. Obama’s stuck between two unpalatable options, bombing Iran and starting (or escalating) a hot war across at least three countries in the region, namely, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, or doing nothing and being known to history as the Man Who Let Iran Get the Bomb. A 15-year deal with sunset provisions is as explicit an attempt as you can get to push the ultimate disposition of Iran’s nuke program onto some future president. Maybe the mullahs will be deposed by then and the problem will solve itself (although it’s naive to think even a friendlier regime in Tehran will be willing to capitulate on enrichment). Maybe the U.S. will have developed new weapons by then, cyber or otherwise, that will permit a more effective attack on Iran’s facilities than we’re capable of right now. Maybe the Israelis will figure something out. Or maybe the status quo will hold, more or less, and President Hillary or President Jeb or whoever will have to make the sort of tough decision that Obama’s incapable of making. Whatever the answer, it won’t be his problem anymore. Unless of course Iran violates the agreement before January 2017. And why would they do that and risk alienating O when he’s busy reorienting America’s entire Middle East policy towards detente with the Shiite menace?

Two other points here. One: After all the Democratic screeching about Tom Cotton’s unprecedented, historic, near-treasonous Logan-Act-smashing letter to Iran, it did squat to disrupt the deal. And that was predictable, of course, since Cotton’s letter said nothing that Iran didn’t already know. It was cheap left-wing demagoguery from the word go, designed to bolster a guy whose committed the sort of sins against separation of powers that would have liberals demanding impeachment if a Republican had committed them. Take nothing these people say seriously. Two: All lefty defenses of doing a deal with Iran boil down to “the mullahs are rational.” Even if the worst occurs and they build a bomb on the sly — a prospect Obama’s Democratic supporters are clearly already preparing for rhetorically — it’s not a huge deal because Iran’s rulers haven’t made any suicidal moves to date. They didn’t fight to the bitter end against Saddam in the 80s, they preferred Shiite proxies and arms shipments to direct battlefield confrontation with the U.S. in Iraq — they know their limitations, so they won’t do anything dramatic with Israel knowing the scale of nuclear retaliation that awaits. The problem with that defense is that it assumes that things can’t get worse in Iran; the current regime is the craziest Iran is capable of, supposedly, and since they’re kinda sorta rational, that means there’s no worst-case scenario. Rule one of Middle Eastern regime change, though, is that things can always get worse (and usually do). In fact, the left’s criticism of Cotton’s letter tacitly acknowledges it: Cotton’s letter allowed “hardline” opponents of the nuclear deal in Iran’s parliament to proclaim that the negotiations were doomed and shouldn’t continue. What happens if Khamenei dies and one of those “hardliners” ascends the throne? Lefties and righties alike recognize what a nuclear clusterfark it would be if Pakistan’s leadership was deposed by something more Taliban-esque. We all understand it’d be a terrible idea to let the Saudi royals have the bomb knowing what’s waiting in the wings to replace them. What if something similar happened in Iran, with the fanatics di tutti fanatics within the regime suddenly inheriting a supply of highly enriched uranium? Why does Iran get such a weird benefit of the doubt as to its enduring stability and rationality?

Update: Ah, here’s a nice catch by Jeff Dunetz. If Iran’s nuclear production is all about supplying power plants, why on earth would they settle for only a few thousand centrifuges but insist on more than 4,000, per the AP excerpt above? Your answer:

If you are going to have a nuclear weapons program, 5,000 is pretty much the number you need,” [former CIA deputy director Mike] Morell, now a CBS analyst, said on Charlie Rose. “If you have a power program, you need a lot more. By limiting them to a small number of centrifuges, we are limiting them to the number you need for a weapon.”

The Secret Behind Obama’s Nuclear Deal

pic_giant_022615_SM_Obama-Iran-DealThe Iran Nuclear Deal’s Secret Side

A bomb that fails to explode after it is dropped is called a dud. Occasionally that dud goes off long after the battle is over, causing casualties among people who thought they were no longer in harm’s way.

Politico published a story in April about how the Obama administration undermined its own anti-proliferation and sanctions-enforcement efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran. It should have been a bombshell when it was published. But if it made any noise at all, the sound was lost amid the cacophony over supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

In reaching its 2015 deal to restrict Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international and some – but not all – U.S. sanctions, the Obama administration released seven Iranian prisoners (six of whom were Iranian-American) and dropped international extradition efforts to try to gain custody of 14 others. This much became public knowledge when the deal was implemented in January 2016.

But the report from Politico said the former president downplayed the offenses for which the detainees had been held and the others were being sought. Three of the released prisoners were part of a procurement network that sought microelectronics for Iranian anti-aircraft and cruise missiles. Another had been sentenced to eight years for supplying Iran with satellite technology. The 14 fugitives who the U.S. had sought to apprehend included the alleged ringleader of a group that acquired vital American-made parts for Iranian centrifuges via China. Those centrifuges were a key component of the very Iranian nuclear program that the administration was trying to stop.

That’s just what happened in 2016, after the deal was signed. Politico also reported that the Obama administration began slow-walking efforts to apprehend Iranian arms-smugglers and sanctions-busters as early as 2014, when talks on the potential nuclear deal were still a secret held closely within the White House and a small circle of senior executive branch officials.

Obama’s under-the-table concessions on Iran’s procurement agents, like the overall Iran nuclear deal itself, are arguably unwise but unarguably legal. The determination and execution of American foreign policy are the purview of the executive branch, subject to congressional prerogatives over appropriating funds, confirming nominees, declaring war and ratifying treaties. Despite the fact that it involved American commitments to Iran and collaboration with multiple other countries, the nuclear deal was presented as an executive agreement rather than a treaty, which is why President Trump is free to disavow it if he should choose. So far, he has not.

American allies as diverse as Israel and Saudi Arabia instantly saw the Obama agreement as a concession to an implacable enemy and a threat to their own security. No doubt they knew the extent of the concessions regarding the sanctions-evading individuals well before Politico brought this to wider attention. With America’s reliability as a bulwark against Iranian aggression undermined, the Saudis in particular embarked on a much more muscular response of their own, including the current near-blockade of neighboring Qatar for being insufficiently loyal to the anti-Tehran cause.

While Obama may have been kowtowing to the Iranians, he certainly wasn’t “colluding” with them in any reasonable sense of that word. He was acting as an elected official within what he (at least) believed to be the scope of his constitutional powers. This was true, as well, back in 2012 when Obama famously told Dmitry Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” At the time Medvedev was keeping Russia’s presidential seat warm for Vladimir Putin, who had temporarily stepped down in 2008 to become prime minister due to term limits, only to reclaim the seat a few weeks after Obama’s remarks to Medvedev were inadvertently captured on an open mic. “I understand,” Medvedev replied. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

Was Obama “colluding” with the Russians amid his 2012 presidential campaign? Not unless collusion has been redefined to include the conduct of international diplomacy by a sitting president.

Trump, of course, was not a sitting president during the 2016 campaign. Nothing has surfaced to indicate that he or the people around him had anything to do with the hacking of Democratic campaign files and subsequent releases of embarrassing emails that U.S. intelligence agencies (then run by Obama appointees) concluded were the work of the Russians. And while some in Trump’s circle surely had business dealings with Russian executives and officials during that time, those likewise were not illegal, and had even been encouraged by the Obama administration.

Well after the election and just a few weeks before Trump’s inauguration, Obama retaliated against the alleged Russian electoral interference with new sanctions, including the ban of 35 Russian individuals from U.S. soil. According to news reports initially sourced to anonymously leaked intelligence, Trump’s incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, discussed those sanctions with a Russian diplomat and may have indicated that Trump would revisit the actions once he took office. (Thus far Trump has let Obama’s steps stand.) Flynn served in the administration for less than a month before being forced to resign, largely for telling Vice President Mike Pence that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russians – denials which were later contradicted, to Pence’s embarrassment.

So for the past four months we have been exposed to an endless deluge of columns purporting to explore and explode the alleged “cover-up” for which there is, as far as anyone yet knows, no underlying crime, based on leaks from the administration of a president who, after boasting of his own forthcoming “flexibility,” sought to tie his successor’s hands in dealing with the still-emerging disclosures of Russian interference in an American election.

It has been a lot of noise and smoke, but with very little actual explosive force. Meanwhile, an actual bombshell landed almost unnoticed and sits waiting for someone to stumble across it. It may never go off. Then again, especially if one of Obama’s catch-and-release proliferators is ever linked to a successful hostile event, it could someday yield a pretty big bang.

Ex-Nuke Commanders Worry About Nuclear War (Revelation 15)

A man passes by a TV news program in May in South Korea showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The letters read: “North Korea launched a missile on April 29.” | AP Photo

An international group of ex-nuclear commanders Wednesday issued the first in a series of recommendations to world leaders to head off the rising threat of a nuclear war — calling on the Trump administration to open direct talks with North Korea, urging the United States, Russia and NATO to immediately establish military-to-military talks, and calling on India and Pakistan to set up a nuclear hotline.

“The Nuclear Crisis Group assesses that the risk of nuclear weapons use, intended or otherwise, is unacceptably high and that all states must take constructive steps to reduce these risks,” the former military and diplomatic leaders — from nations as diverse as Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and the United States — write in an 11-page report about what they consider the biggest nuclear flashpoints.

The crisis group was established earlier this year under the auspices of Global Zero, an leading arms control organization that supports the ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.

A primary concern is the deteriorating situation with North Korea, which continues to test long-range missiles and prepare additional nuclear tests, and has been the focus of rising threats from President Donald Trump. Among the group’s recommendations: “To reduce immediate nuclear risks, the United States and North Korea should resume bilateral discussions immediately without preconditions.”

It also calls on Washington and Pyongyang to “refrain from nuclear threats and adopt nuclear no-first-use statements” and to further reduce tensions the U.S. should “suspend flights of strategic bombers and visits by strategic submarines in return for key commensurate restraints by North Korea.”

The calls for action on North Korea coincided with a letter Wednesday to Trump from a bipartisan group of former top U.S. leaders — including former secretaries of State, Defense and Energy — also urging him to open direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Tightening sanctions can be useful in increasing pressure on North Korea, but sanctions alone will not solve the problem,” the letter states. “Pyongyang has shown it can make progress on missile and nuclear technology despite its isolation. Without a diplomatic effort to stop its progress, there is little doubt that it will develop a long-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the United States.”

The letter to Trump was signed by William Perry, former secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton; George Shultz, secretary of State under Ronald Reagan; Robert Gallucci, who was was chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994; Siegfried Hecker, the former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who has visited North Korea seven times; former Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, who chaired the Foreign Relations Committee; and Bill Richardson, a former secretary of Energy and another frequent visitor to the isolated communist regime.

On Russia, the report from the former nuclear commanders says the escalating standoff between the United States and its European allies and Moscow also requires urgent action by all parties, including limiting the size, nature and secrecy of military exercises.

“I think the consensus here is that Russia is a much dicier story than people understand, with the intercepts in the air and all the rest,” said Bruce Blair, co-founder of Global Zero and a former nuclear missile officer, referring to recent military confrontations between the U.S. and Russian militaries. “The gravity and the potential for escalation have been widely underestimated. We worry about Russian escalation to the use of nuclear weapons.”

Among its recommendations, the group calls for leaders to “urgently resume effective US-Russia and NATO-Russia high-level dialogues and military-to-military discussions.”

They also call on Trump and President Vladimir Putin to agree to extend the 2012 New START nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia when they meet in Germany next week.

“Crisis instability between the United States and Russia remains unacceptably high,” says the report. “There is growing concern that military and doctrinal moves by NATO and Russia could provoke a conflict with nuclear ramifications.”

The group also offers a series of recommendations to lower nuclear dangers in South Asia, where the arsenals of India and Pakistan are considered particularly destabilizing because they do not have the same of security procedures as other nuclear powers.

“They lack safety features and the risk they would detonate from an accident is uncomfortably high,” said Blair. “They have not developed the safety features that the U.S. and Russia have,”

Another area of high concern not receiving enough attention is the potential for a cyberattack on nuclear command and control systems.

“All states with nuclear should also consider establishing a formal dialogue to prevent cyber-based interference in nuclear operations, command-and-control and early warning capabilities,” the report says. “The growth and uncertainties surrounding national offensive cyber capabilities must be walled off from nuclear operations and early warning to protect against a new dangerous potential source of instability and crisis manipulation.

Added Blair: “Two or more of these crises could develop simultaneously and we have a vacuum of leadership in the world.”

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

Earthquake activity in the New York City area

maxresdefault-300x224

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.

Background

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]

Japan Prepares for Nuclear War

Japan Warns Citizens Of North Korean Nuclear Strike in New Chilling Broadcast

In a new national broadcast, Japan alerted its citizens to seek shelter in sturdy buildings or lie face down on the ground in the unfortunate event that North Korea fires a nuclear missile at the country.

The 30-second announcement is being aired on 43 TV stations from now until early July, while written instructions are being printed in 70 newspapers throughout Japan, The Telegraph reported.

The government will keep the public informed through speakers across the country should a missile attack break out.

It also asked citizens to stay away from windows and protect their heads if they happen to be inside buildings, with underground shopping malls being recommended as shelters, too.

The warning comes amid increasing tensions between the states.

In May, North Korea alarmed Japan when it conducted a missile test in the direction of the latter. The projectile traveled 15 times the speed of sound and peaked at an altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) before crashing into the Sea of Japan.

More recently, a national security source told Nikkei:

“North Korea appears to have completed the development of a Japan-targeted nuclear missile.”

Japan is the only country that has ever suffered the devastation of a nuclear war, The Sun noted, when the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the last days of World War II.

The attack killed more than 250,000 civilians while many suffered the lingering effects of radiation.

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

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

NYCEM.org

New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation

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

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

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

Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low Seismicity, Seismic Hazard, or Seismic Risk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions.

Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so?

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

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

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

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

Next article September 29, 2014