The Sixth Seal Long Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting



Published: March 25, 2001

Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.

Q. What have you found?

A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.

Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?

 A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.

Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?

A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.

Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.

A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.

Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?

A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.

Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?

A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement. There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.


Photo: Alexander Gates, a Rutgers geologist, is mapping a part of the Ramapo Fault, site of previous earthquakes. (John W. Wheeler for The New York Times)

Trump is Truly a Nuclear Dunderhead

A TV screen on Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea, displaying the Sohae launch site in the North, which satellite evidence suggests it has begun to dismantle.Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press

Trump’s Sense of Timing on Nuclear Threats Confounds Experts

July 24, 2018

News Analysis

WASHINGTON — After declaring he has plenty of time to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis, President Trump celebrated on Tuesday what he claimed was an early victory: satellite evidence that the country is dismantling a missile test stand in a small first step toward securing commitments made by its leader, Kim Jong-un, last month in Singapore.

But inside the White House, Mr. Trump’s aides wonder whether they are falling into a familiar pattern of endless negotiations with the North, which in the past has destroyed a few symbolic facilities but kept expanding its arsenal.

And at the same time, the president is now arguing that the clock is moving the other way in Iran. Mr. Trump is focusing on the nuclear program there with new urgency and threats of military action — even though it was his decision in May to withdraw from a deal that limited Iran’s nuclear capabilities for more than a decade.

The combination — flatter Mr. Kim, threaten the mullahs — comes straight from Mr. Trump, based on his negotiating approach as a New York developer, according to several current and former American diplomats and intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

But cajoling business partners and undercutting rivals does not translate easily in geopolitics. And in recent conversations, additional officials have confessed to being confounded by the president’s strategy.

“On the surface, it makes little sense,” said Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former official at the State Department and National Security Council who worked for several Republican presidents on both issues.

“Trump has rejected a detailed pact that kept Iran out of the nuclear weapons business for a decade, while embracing a vague communiqué that allows North Korea to keep its nuclear weapons for years, and possibly forever,” Mr. Haass added.

Neither the White House nor the State Department has explained the approach. It is likely to be a major subject of questioning — along with what happened in Helsinki, Finland, in closed-door meetings between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies on Wednesday in the Senate.

By all indications, Iran is still complying with the nuclear accord that it reached with world powers in 2015. American intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran’s leaders are trying to use Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the accord to rip apart the coalition of European nations, Russia and China that had joined the United States to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.

It is clear Moscow will not join in Iran’s economic isolation: At an otherwise friendly news conference with Mr. Trump last week in Helsinki, Mr. Putin criticized the American withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

At the same time, the officials warned, Mr. Trump’s premature declaration on Twitter that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” could come back to haunt him. That statement took much of the pressure off Mr. Kim, and appears to be helping him evade international sanctions, with the help of China and Russia.

On Tuesday, at a rally in Kansas City, Mo., Mr. Trump sought in a single breath to join the two fronts as successes.

“Iran is not the same country anymore,” the president said, a statement that seemed to suggest he believes the clerical government in Tehran is folding under the new pressures. He decried the nuclear deal he inherited as “horrible” and “one-sided.”

He then raised his meeting last month in Singapore with Mr. Kim as part of a broader pursuit of “prosperity, security and peace on the Korean Peninsula and all of Asia.”

People in Tehran, Iran, protesting in May President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.Vahid Salemi/Associated Press

“New images just today show that North Korea has begun the process of dismantling a key missile site and we appreciate that,” Mr. Trump said. “We had a fantastic meeting with Chairman Kim and it seems to be going very well.”

His comments were the latest example of how the president is casting the best possible light on North Korea’s steps so far, ignoring that the country is still producing nuclear fuel and, some American intelligence officials suspect, adding to its arsenal of 20 to 60 weapons.

The dismantlement of the missile site is significant because it will slow the North’s ability to test weapons’ engines. Given its history — it was from that location that the North at least twice launched primitive space satellites that experts in the West saw as experiments for firing a warhead — it is reminiscent of other steps that the country took a decade ago, when it blew up the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor.

But its weapons-building continued.

In recent weeks, and in public and private statements by Mr. Trump, Mr. Pompeo and other aides, hints of the president’s double-barreled strategy have emerged.

The current and former diplomats and intelligence officials said Mr. Trump has convinced himself that the only hope of coaxing Mr. Kim to give up his weapons is to effusively praise him. That means ignoring the tens of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of North Koreans whom Mr. Kim has put in gulags, his execution of perceived opponents and his refusal in Singapore to sign on to any document that created a timeline for denuclearization.

The American military commander in South Korea, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, said on Saturday that while the North’s abilities were undiminished, Mr. Kim appeared to be softening his threats. He noted that it had been more than 235 days since North Korea had conducted a nuclear weapons test.

“In many ways, the lack of trust is the enemy we now have to defeat,” General Brooks said in a presentation via satellite to a national security conference in Aspen, Colo. Building trust, he said, would take time.

He was immediately answered by Sue Mi Terry, formerly one of the C.I.A.’s lead analysts on North Korea, who argued that the Trump administration had become so invested in the success of the summit meeting with Mr. Kim that it had ignored reality.

“We don’t have an agreement. We don’t have a deal. We don’t have a declaration,” said Ms. Terry, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She noted the gap between how Americans describe “denuclearization” and how North Korea describes it.

“Right now, we have nothing,” she concluded.

Administration officials said Mr. Pompeo was counseling the president that the process of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula would be lengthy — extending through the rest of Mr. Trump’s term. Even Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, conceded at the Aspen forum that an earlier timeline of a year as pressed by John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, was not going to happen.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump senses weakness in Iran.

Major European companies that promised to invest in the country after the 2015 accord are backing out; even Boeing, which was going to supply aircraft parts for an unsafe Iranian commercial air fleet, has reversed course.

In a speech over the weekend at the Reagan library in California, Mr. Pompeo all but encouraged uprisings against Iran’s leaders, highlighting the corruption of the government.

“Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government,” he said, a statement he could also have made about Russia or North Korea, but chose not to.

That was followed by Mr. Trump’s tweet on Sunday evening, warning Iran never to threaten the United States, “OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED.”

It was the first time Mr. Trump had used the kind of language against Iran that he had used against North Korea last summer, when he threatened “fire and fury.”

Some of his own officials were left wondering whether it was a bluff — intended to force the Iranians into a Korea-like negotiation, or a distraction from his other problems.

Shaking Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

TARRYTOWN, NY — A 1.5 magnitude earthquake hit Westchester County Monday. The epicenter was 1.6 miles southeast of Tarrytown, according to the United States Geological Service.

The time was 3:17 p.m. and the quake took place 10 kilometers (about six miles) below the surface.

Did you feel it? Contribute to citizen science and help the Rockland-based Lamont Dougherty Earth Observatory make a shaking intensity map.

Trump and World War 3 (Revelation 15)

What Trump’s threatened war with Iran would actually look like

Trump’s tweet to Iran threatens a war that would in all likelihood be absolutely catastrophic.

Zack BeauchampJul 23, 2018, 12:15pm EDT

Iranian revolutionary guard.

Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

At 11:24 pm Eastern time on Sunday, President Donald Trump sent an all-caps tweet threatening war with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Trump had apparently heard part of a recent speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in which Rouhani warned that a US-Iran confrontation would be “the mother of all wars.”

The American president interpreted this as a threat and sent an extremely scary tweet in response.


It’s important not to dismiss this as empty Trump rhetoric: War with Iran is an idea that has a lot of support among conservatives and members of Trump’s Cabinet. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton publicly called for airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities prior to joining the Trump administration.

With the 2015 Iran deal on the ropes after Trump’s withdrawal, the potential for Iran to restart prohibited nuclear activities has never been greater — and no one is really sure how Trump will respond if that happens.

What this means is that, as scary as it sounds, we have to take the possibility of war with Iran seriously. We need to understand just what such a war would entail and what the consequences would be if it happened.

The best estimates we have suggest it would be a disaster.

Surgical strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only set back the program temporarily, but destroying the country’s nuclear capacity entirely would require a massive military effort. That would kill thousands of people, destroy whatever vestiges of political stability remain in the Middle East, and potentially wreak havoc on the global economy — all while likely failing to permanently end Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Given that the Iran deal has, so far, successfully rolled back the nuclear program, it’s hard to see why this would be worth it. But here we are.

Why bombing Iran would be ineffective — and potentially catastrophic

Generally, advocates of military action against Iran propose a limited air campaign targeting the heart of Iran’s nuclear program. “An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure,” Bolton wrote in a 2015 New York Times op-ed. “By breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program.”

The key targets in such proposals are the nuclear facilities at Fordow, Natanz, and Arak (the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan is also often referenced). Activity at these facilities has been slowed or suspended entirely under the nuclear deal, but the buildings have not been demolished. If Iran were to restart its push toward a bomb, then those would be the places it would start — and thus would be the first target in any US attack.

Some of these, Fordow in particular, are fortified, but the US has bunker-buster bombs that are capable of doing real damage to them. But even such “limited” strikes would be a massive military operation.

The first issue is that the US would need to destroy Iran’s air defenses, including fighters and surface-to-air missiles, in order to ensure the bombs hit their targets and to prevent Iran from doing serious damage in response. According to Robert Farley, a professor at the University of Kentucky and an expert on air power, this “would involve long-range bombers, drones, electronic warfare, land-based fighter-bombers, carrier aircraft, and submarine-launched cruise missiles.”

Even the strikes against the nuclear program would need to hit a broad range of targets. Contrary to the assumptions of Iran hawks, the strikes couldn’t be limited to Iran’s big nuclear production facilities. The real problem, according to a RAND Corporation brief by Robert J. Reardon, would be Iran’s centrifuge production facilities. Simply destroying Iranian enrichment plants would not be enough to end the nuclear weapons program if Iran could just build centrifuges for new ones quickly. It’s not actually clear how many such facilities there are.

“Sites that have been identified, or ones that were known in the past, have typically been small, easily concealed from reconnaissance satellites, and located in densely populated urban areas,” Reardon writes. “Failure to destroy these sites would allow the Iranians to rebuild their enrichment program, because the machines could be manufactured relatively quickly.”

If the first round of strikes didn’t destroy every target, the US might need to return again and again. It would require the US to “continue a sustained campaign over a period of time and re-strike after an initial battle damage assessment [if] it is found that further strike sorties are required,” defense analysts Anthony Cordesman and Abdullah Toukan write in a comprehensive 2012 Center for Strategic and International Studies report.

And even that probably wouldn’t demolish the program. “Depending on the forces allocated and duration of air strikes, it is unlikely that an air campaign alone could … terminate Iran’s program,” Cordesman and Toukan argue.

They’re not the only ones who have come to this conclusion. A panel at the nonpartisan Wilson Center reviewed the military studies on the issue and concluded that even if extended military strikes were carried out “to near perfection,” the best-case scenario is still only a four-year delay in Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.

Ultimately, the only way military force could stop Iran from going nuclear is if the US committed to a more or less indefinite war.

“To fulfill the stated objective of ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear bomb,” the Wilson Center report finds, “the U.S. would need to conduct a significantly expanded air and sea war over a prolonged period of time, likely several years.”

The consequences of such a prolonged war, especially in today’s Middle East, would be disastrous. Iran has the power to make an unstable Middle East even worse: It could directly target and kill Americans in the region, exacerbate a number of the region’s festering conflicts, and potentially threaten the global oil supply — and thus the global economy.

Iranian proxy militias could also decide to attack American troops in Iraq if talks fall apart. While the US is particularly exposed in Iraq, it has people and assets across much of the region; Iran, too, has proxies across the Middle East. It’s difficult to imagine Iran staying its hand in the event of an outright US attack.

Iran could also attack oil infrastructure or blockade the Strait of Hormuz, a critical oil shipping route, all of which would have tremendous effects.

”Iran can use a mix of mines, submarines, submersibles, drones, anti‐ship missiles, small craft, and assault forces anywhere in the Gulf region to threaten the flow of oil exports,” Cordesman and Toukan write. “Any major disruption affects the entire economy of Asia and all world oil prices — regardless of where oil is produced. It can lead to panic and hoarding on a global basis.”

In the long run, the deal would work better than strikes

Airstrikes would destroy what has been a key constraint on Iran’s nuclear program: the system of international inspections and sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.

European and Asian countries have given the US strategy much of its force by helping to isolate and sanction Iran; that is what compelled Iran to negotiate and agree to make concessions in the first place. These countries are already angry at Trump for withdrawing from the deal, and seem totally uninterested in reimposing sanctions to try to get “a better deal.”

If the US attacked Iran, the international community would likely be appalled and abandon its support for sanctioning and isolating Iran altogether, leaving the country wealthier and in a stronger diplomatic position.

That would, in turn, cripple any serious attempt to prevent Iran from rebuilding its nuclear program.

”In the absence of clear evidence that Iran was dashing for a bomb,” Georgetown University’s Colin Kahl told Congress in 2012, “a US strike risks shattering international consensus, making postwar containment more difficult to implement. And with inspectors gone, it would be much harder to detect and prevent Iran’s clandestine rebuilding efforts.”

Striking Iran, then, wouldn’t be a “several-day” endeavor, as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a congressional uberhawk who reportedly has Trump’s ear on national security issues, once suggested. It wouldn’t stop Iran’s nuclear program unless the United States committed to more or less permanent war with Iran — and may not work even then. And it would likely have devastating consequences for the US and its allies.

What’s ironic here is that the nuclear deal is working reasonably well to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization tasked with implementing the deal, has repeatedly certified that Iran is in compliance with its terms. Given the deal’s strict inspection provisions, it would be very hard for Iran to bamboozle International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors — meaning that so long as it is in place, there’s very little risk that Iran becomes a North Korea-style nuclear threat anytime soon.

So far, the deal is holding even after US withdrawal. But Iran’s compliance is tenuous, and further belligerence from the US could give Tehran a reason to stop abiding by the deal’s limitations.

The logic of threatening a painful, pointless war under these circumstances escapes me. But the president of the United States, and several of his top national security advisers, seems to disagree.

The Antichrist and the future of Iraq

img_2010Muqtada al-Sadr and the future of Iraq

Al Arabiya

The Iraqi elections in May have been marred with corruption, theft, fraud and mass abstentions by honorable Iraqis looking to not participate in the sham. Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc won the elections and gained the right to form a government. He did so by a combination of factors.

First, there was a record low turnout by Iraqis boycotting the elections because of pervasive government corruption and a lack of trust in the system. Al-Sadr’s bloc showed up in ordinary numbers while all of the opposing blocs had record lows in their respective turnouts.

Second, al-Sadr’s group performed mass vote fraud by destroying the registration machines in a suspicious fire and then by destroying actual paper ballots in another suspicious fire hopefully forcing the (now unreliable) electronic ballots to be used. The origins of these fires are not proved yet but al-Sadr’s involvement is the biggest open secret in Iraq since the days of Saddam.

Third, al-Sadr actually gained legitimate votes and bloc partners by preaching a popular message of Iraqi Nationalism, anti-corruption and honest government. Iraqis are starved for an honest, Iraq-First government and al-Sadr held out that possibility, however illusory the promise turned out to be.

The legitimate installation of al-Sadr and his cronies in the highest seats of power in Baghdad may take Iraqis on a very short road to destruction

Michael Flanagan

Invalidate ballots

In response to this outcome, the Iraqi Parliament (filled with parliamentarians who are losing their jobs) voted to invalidate all of the electronic ballots on the grounds of fraud and require that a manual recount be taken in all of Iraq.

Parliament also invalidated the votes cast outside of Iraq by ex-pats and soldiers – especially the Peshmerga (the Kurdish Militia). Last, Parliament ousted the National Electoral Commission and replaced it with a better-respected panel of judges.

This law was immediately challenged by the sitting President of Iraq, the Kurdish parties and others. On Thursday of last week, the Supreme Federal Court of Iraq ruled on the challenge to that new law and largely upheld the actions by Parliament.

There will be a manual recount of electronic balloting but not the entire country – only the parts of Iraq where fraud was alleged. Also, the court upheld the appeal by requiring that the votes cast outside of Iraq will not be invalidated and will be counted.

Iranian bloc

Al-Sadr largely won his points and his majority will likely hold up. Since the election, al-Sadr’s bloc has gained the support of the Iranian bloc. Additionally since the appeal’s failure, al-Sadr has gained the support of the current Prime Minister, Hayder al-Abadi, in the naked hope of remaining prime minister.

Al-Sadr still lacks sufficient votes to declare a majority and must work with additional partners to form the next Iraqi government. This will be hard being that al Sadr has sacrificed all of his credibility and will now need to horse-trade for power. This process is exactly what he ran against but apparently never meant to put into practice.

Additionally, his situation is further complicated by the possibility of his bloc partners (the Communists among others) defecting from al Sadr because his promises of an honest government turned-out to be a lie.

The matter is now with the Iraqi people to decide whether they want an honest government dedicated to Iraqi nationalism, honesty, integrity and success, or, to have another group of leaders rob and pillage the country for they own wants and needs in the exercise illegitimate power with stolen money.

Lack of honesty

Sadr’s militia is a scary proposition to oppose but now is the time to strike before he gains more power and capacity. His lack of honesty, fair dealings and devotion to Iranian interests makes al Sadr dangerous to all Iraqis. It is not an overstatement that he could easily be another Saddam in the making and Iraqis should be wary and act now, while they still can.

They should protest constantly, forcefully and demand another election. At that election, they should actually show-up this time and vote and elect an honest government. It is clear that the message of an honest government is a wining message and such a candidate would prevail in a re-election if held.

In one fell swoop, the Iraqi population could throw out a corrupt sitting government and blunt the efforts of a dangerous demagogue whose allegiance is to Iranian interests and not to Iraqi nationalism as it should be.

The legitimate installation of al-Sadr and his cronies in the highest seats of power in Baghdad may take Iraqis on a very short road to destruction. If he is willing to lie about his principles to get elected, why would he respect the law if installed?

The success of al-Sadr in forming a coalition will not only fail to hold the promise of a new day for Iraq but may herald the beginning of the end of Iraqi democracy. Now is the time to act.


Michael Patrick Flanagan represented the 5th District of Illinois in the historic 104th Congress. He sat on the Committees on the Judiciary, Government Reform and Oversight, and Veterans’ Affairs. Prior to his Congressional Service, Michael was commissioned in the United States Army Field Artillery. After leaving Congress, Michael and his firm, Flanagan Consulting LLC, have represented both large and small corporations, organizations, and associations. In 2009, Michael took a sabbatical from his lobbying business and entered public service again with the United States Department of State in Iraq as the Senior Rule of Law Advisor on the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Maysan, Iraq. For his work, Michael was awarded the Man of the Year by the Iraqi Courts, the Civilian Service Medal by the US Army and was also given the Individual Distinguished Honor Award. Michael is currently a consultant in Washington, D.C. His email ID is

Last Update: Tuesday, 24 July 2018 KSA 19:16 – GMT 16:16

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