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

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

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?”

The Antichrist Supports the Chaos in Iraq

The Shia Spring Shias in southern Iraq are fed up with the government


Thousands of Iraqis are protesting against shortages of electricity and water

IRAQ’S ruling elite has survived Kurdish separatism and Sunni jihadism. But a challenge from its own Shia base could prove the greatest threat. Since July 8th the oil-rich south has been in tumult. In the searing heat, tens of thousands of Iraqis are protesting against the dearth of electricity and water. They have ransacked government buildings, burnt offices of political parties and blocked roads to oilfields and the port. When the caretaker prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, went to Basra to calm tempers with a promise of 10,000 new jobs, demonstrators chased him away. He has since called in the army and militias, imposed curfews and cut off the internet. Over a dozen people have been killed, many of them shot dead.

The government looks on, as if at a passing summer cloud. Come September, say officials, the outrage will subside with the temperatures. Behind the barricades of Baghdad’s vast Green Zone, business continues as usual in air-conditioned palaces. Leaders of Shia factions bicker over the results of May’s disputed election. A manual recount drags on. Party hacks haggle over the most lucrative ministries.

But exasperation in the Red Zone—the rest of Iraq—is near breaking point. Parents cool toddlers in buckets filled with what fetid water drips from the taps. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis graduate annually with little prospect of a formal job.

At stake is the ethno-sectarian system America installed after its invasion in 2003. For 15 years southern Shias kept it working. They gave the ruling factions their votes, oil wealth and men in a war to suppress Sunnis. But corruption, mismanagement and the costs of four years fighting the jihadists of Islamic State have reduced the southern provinces to Iraq’s poorest. Now they have had enough. Less than half the electorate voted, with turnout lowest in Baghdad and the south. Muqtada al-Sadr, a populist cleric revered in the shantytowns, emerged as the front-runner. “Iraqis have lost faith in the political system,” says Ali Allawi, a former defence minister. “After 15 years it has failed to deliver.”

Few of the totems of the new order have been spared. Protesters marched on bases of the hashd, the militia that increasingly acts as the elite’s praetorian guard. They cried for the expulsion of its backer, Iran, and ripped down the signposts over Basra’s Imam Khomeini highway, named after the late leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution. They even mocked the ayatollahs in the holy city of Najaf. Images of clerical car parks full of luxury cars circulated on social media with the caption “kulkum haramiyya” (you’re all thieves).

Officials blithely assume that the protesters lack staying power. The chief rabble-rouser, Mr Sadr, has been too tempted by power to join the protests. Without him they look disorganised. But that also makes them harder to co-opt. And summer unrest in Iraq has an uncomfortable way of heating up. The revolution against the British in 1920, the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958 and the Baathist coup of 1968 all took place in July.

Some in government circles want a top-down overhaul before Iraq erupts from the bottom. The army remains one of the few institutions popular with Sunnis and Shias alike. But its officer class is probably too depoliticised to revolt. A more likely scenario could be a coup in which a Shia politician declares an emergency and grabs power.

In other times America might have scrambled to prop up Iraq’s democracy. But to the extent that the Trump administration cares at all, it seems interested in a government that keeps the oil flowing and does its bidding against Iran. It is pleased by the anti-Iranian flavour of the protests, but worries that Iranian-backed ministers will help their neighbour bust American sanctions. Ultimately, Iraqis will have to solve their own problems.

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline “The Shia spring”

US Hegemony in Iran is OVER

Regime change? This isn’t 1953 and Khamenei isn’t Mosaddegh

Seyed Mohammad Marandi

Much wisdom about empire can be acquired by observing the decades of running commentary on Iranian “abnormality” in Western discourse. Subsequent to the Iranian parliament’s almost unanimous vote to nationalise Iranian oil – and until the successful Anglo-American coup in 1953 – the then Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was widely and relentlessly derided in the Western media as a fanatical and irrational fool pushing Iranians towards communism, misery, and destitution.

The British Royal Navy imposed an embargo on Iranian oil, BBC radio Persian was deployed to generate sedition, fear, and despair, and ultimately, the coup was carried out as the CIA paid both pro-communist rioters as well as pro-shah counter-rioters to sow fear and chaos in Tehran.

Virtues aside, among Mosaddegh’s fatal flaws at this sensitive and historic juncture were his naive trust in the United States, attempts to preserve a corrupt and subservient pro-Western monarchy, an inclination for monopolising power, and the marginalisation of political persuasions other than his own.

A warranted mistrust

Despite Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s warranted mistrust towards US intentions, throughout different administrations he refrained from impeding presidential initiatives to ease bilateral tensions, even as he would support measures to safeguard the country from the almost inevitable American traditional backstab.

His sensible reservations about proposals from pro-Western liberal policymakers and elites, whose views often mimic those of Western policymakers and mainstream “intellectuals” and are also well represented in the Iranian media, did not hamper the extensive negotiations held with the regime in Washington.

Despite Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s warranted mistrust towards US intentions, throughout different administrations he refrained from impeding presidential initiatives to ease bilateral tensions

Despite endless attempts by Western-backed Persian-language media outlets to reinforce rumours, create anxiety and division as well as subtly encourage violence in the well-kept tradition of their predecessors, Ayatollah Khamenei has successfully kept most feuding politicians and diverse social forces from sliding down the slippery slope of polarisation.

The current heads of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are of notably dissimilar political persuasions from their predecessors as well as one another, yet all have served or are serving their full terms in office in relative calm.

The chessboard of Iranian politics

Reformists, moderates, conservatives, and independents all engage in the messy and highly complicated chessboard of Iranian politics, but unlike under Mosaddegh, Western powers have had only limited success in manipulating Iranian politics or legitimate protests.

A portrait of former prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, who was ousted in a coup in 1953 (Jonathan Steele/MEE)

Through Western-funded NGOs, Persian-language television channels, the internet, and social media in 2009 they encouraged division, violence and sedition by pushing unfounded allegations of electoral fraud after an emotionally charged and divisive, somewhat class-based presidential election.

More recently, in a speech at an event in Paris organised by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), once listed by the US as a terror organisation and is regarded by Iranian people as a terrorist organisation, Trump’s lawyer and confidante Rudy Giuliani admitted that the riots in Iran late last year were not spontaneous but happened because of “our people” in Albania and Paris.

Iran’s political order has successfully withstood 40 years of onslaught from an empire that has unapologetically downed a civilian airliner and used everything from chemical weapons to sanctions and terror to break the nation

Nevertheless, the US recognises that Los Angeles-based monarchists, the MEK and the many self-exiled individuals who live comfortable lifestyles thanks to ridiculously expensive “regime change” projects funded by the United States and allied regimes in Europe and the region, are not going to bring about change inside Iran.

That is why former US president Barack Obama’s “crippling” and Trump’s “brutal” sanctions were designed to drive innocent Iranians into economic destitution and suffering (like Yemen without wedding and funeral air strikes), so that a desperate public would put pressure on, or ideally, overthrow the Islamic Republic so that the US would show mercy.

A latent orientalism

The general consensus among Western establishment media, pundits, and “experts” is that Washington should work to bring about change to what they call the “mullah regime”. This language represents a Eurocentric inability to comprehend a sophisticated Iranian political model with a constitution and a complex system of checks and balances.

A demonstrator at the University of Tehran protests against the state of the economy in December 2017 (AFP)

Iran’s political order has successfully withstood 40 years of onslaught from an empire that has unapologetically downed a civilian airliner and used everything from chemical weapons to sanctions and terror to break the nation. These are the same people who are, ironically, enraged about alleged (and dubious) claims of Russian interference in the ‘Which Corrupt Billionaire Should be President?’ show.

If the “collapsing” “mullah-run system” is so inherently unpopular and incompetent, how can it also be a rising threat to global security? Only a powerful and latent orientalism can “resolve” this seemingly irresolvable paradox.

If the Islamic Republic is viewed by Iranians as inherently illegitimate, why the need to strangle the population and engage in extensive psychological warfare to force change?

Even as US presidents threaten to destroy Iran, why do British and American state-owned Persian-language media outlets need to struggle to convince Iranians that they do not need a missile defence capability or a strong military? In the words of the narrator in Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man: “I’m invisible, not blind.”

A repeat of 1953

Interpreting economic dissatisfaction and calls for an anti-corruption campaign as public opposition to the constitution or support for external antagonists is a sign of abnormality in the Western discourse on Iran rather than an Iranian abnormality.

Fantasising about the collapse of Iran stems from an inability to comprehend the views of ordinary of Iranians. Rather than pinning hope on such flights of the imagination like a repeat of 1953, it would be infinitely more prudent to heed the warnings of President Hassan Rouhani and the extremely popular IRGC Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a strong country with robust conventional military capabilities, exceptional asymmetrical military capabilities that go far beyond the country’s borders, and an extraordinary religious-bound resilience against injustice. Perhaps that is what makes their 40 years of successful resistance appear “abnormal” to empire.

– Seyed Mohammad Marandi is a professor of English literature and orientalism at the University of Tehran. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Supporters of newly re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dance during a gathering to celebrate his victory at the Vanak Square in downtown Tehran on 20 May 2017 (AFP)